Djokovic Keeps Getting Better With Age, Wins Seventh Paris Masters Crown

Novak Djokovic (photo: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT)

PARIS/WASHINGTON, November 5, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

The Rolex Paris Masters championship on Sunday, featuring six-time champion World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and seventeenth-ranked Grigor Dimitrov, resembled a fine wine of a final with a combined age of 68. It was the oldest final on the ATP Tour this season and oldest in the 38-year-old history of this ATP Masters 1000 tournament held in Bercy, an entertainment district in the 12th arrondissement with shops and restaurants in former wine warehouses.

In their 13th meeting – first in a final – between the two oldest players in the Top 20 Pepperstone ATP Rankings, it was the 36-year-old Djokovic who once again reigned as champion of the Rolex Paris Masters. Like a fine wine, it seems, Djokovic just keeps getting better with age.

The Serbian great defeated the 32-year-old Dimitrov, 6-4, 6-3, in an hour and 38 minutes in Accor Arena for his 18th straight victory, seventh Paris Masters title and 40th ATP Masters 1000 crown. On match point, once the Bulgarian struck a ninth-shot backhand past the baseline, Djokovic raised his arms in celebration.

The victory was Djokovic’s 12th against Dimitrov, including the last 10 meetings and three times this year (Australian Open, Rome, Paris). He also won their two previous meetings in Paris-Bercy, in the third round of 2016 and in the semifinal of 2019.

After Djokovic was extended by a trio of three-set matches in beating No. 23 Tallon Griekspoor, World No. 7 Holger Rune and No. 5 Andrey Rublev to reach the final, he won in straightforward fashion against Dimitrov by taking advantage of three service breaks, while also relying on superior defense and patience. His resilient, all-around play served him well, both against Dimitrov as well as all-comers throughout the week. In the title match, Djokovic hit six aces and 15 winners. He won 77 percent of his service points, did not face any break points on his serve, and outpointed Dimitrov 66-50. It was his 33rd hard-court victory this season in 34 matches.

[It’s] incredible. To be able to win it after quite challenging circumstances for me this week,” Djokovic said after securing his 50th career victory at Paris-Bercy, in his post-match interview prior to the trophy ceremony. “Basically, coming back from the brink of losing three matches in a row, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I was very close to losing those matches and somehow managed to find an extra gear when it was needed.

“Today, I think we both were quite tight at the beginning, and I could see that he was running out of gas a little bit. Myself as well, but I somehow managed to find an extra shot over the net. I think the match was closer than the scoreline indicates, but another amazing win for me. I’m very proud of this one, considering what I’ve been through this week.”

Djokovic, who won his third Roland Garros title in June, completed the Roland Garros/Paris-Bercy title sweep in the same season for the second time. At the conclusion of the final, Djokovic consoled a tearful Dimitrov, who was attempting to win his first Paris Masters title and second ATP Masters 1000 trophy after his Cincinnati success in 2017.

“I’ve been in these situations before many times, losing finals,” Djokovic said. “I’ve of course been blessed to win more finals than I’ve lost, and I really hope that he will continue to play at a high level. He’s been playing some of his best tennis this week, and I wish him all the best. I hope he can win big events.”

In his remarks after he received his runner-up plate, Dimitrov showed his appreciation for support from the Paris fans. “I just wanted to say how grateful I am for this amazing week,” he said. “It’s been such a rollercoaster the past three months for me. Getting to the final of this tournament means so much more than you guys can imagine. But also, it would not have been possible without you throughout the week [and your] support.”

While Dimitrov’s season ends with a 41-21 win-loss record – and his week in Paris was highlighted by victories over World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev, No. 11 Hubert Hurkacz and No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas – Djokovic (51-5, six ATP Tour titles this season and 97 overall) will move on to the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in Turin later this month as the top seed. After winning the Paris title, he extended his lead over Carlos Alcaraz in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin to 1,490 points. It is a comfortable margin that makes it likely that Djokovic will win the ATP Year-End No. 1 trophy for a record-extending eighth time.

Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin win second Masters 1000 title this season

Mexico’s Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France captured their fifth team title of 2023 and their second ATP Masters 1000 crown to go with their earlier one in Miami after beating No. 3 seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Matthew Ebden of Australia, 6-2, 5-7, 10-7, in an hour and 30 minutes, to win the Rolex Paris Masters title.

It was the first time the No. 7 seeds Gonzalez, 40, and Roger-Vasselin, 39, had defeated Bopanna and Ebden in three meetings this season. Sunday’s title victory extended their winning streak to eight.

The Mexican/French duo, which made its debut last year, improved to 58-23 as a team (51-21 in 2023) and did not lose a set (6-0) en route to the final. They have also won titles this year in Marseilles, Los Cabos and last week in Basel.

The set we lost was totally my fault; I did a pretty bad game in the second set,” quipped Roger-Vasselin during a post-match interview before the trophy ceremony. “But Santi helped a lot. At the change over, he said ‘It’s okay. We’re going to fight every point and enjoy the crowd.’ For me to win here, it’s special at Bercy. I’m thankful to Santi. He played amazing tennis all week. I’m really happy to win this trophy here.”

Added Gonzalez: “The last two weeks have been amazing to end the year. We’re coming to Turin with a win and with confidence. We’re obviously happy to win our second Masters 1000 title this year. Hopefully, se can keep it going.”

As a team, Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin are ranked No. 4 on the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings. Individually, Gonzalez is ranked No. 12 and Roger-Vasselin is ranked No. 11.

Going into the Nitto ATP Finals later this month, Bopanna and Ebden qualified third and Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin are fourth.

Around the Rolex Paris Masters

This year’s 38th edition of the Rolex Paris Masters set an attendance record. The last ATP Masters 1000 event drew 170,000 fans to the Accor Arena.

By the numbers

Sunday’s Rolex Paris Masters final between Novak Djokovic (age 36) and Grigor Dimitrov (32) is the oldest final on the ATP Tour this season and oldest in tournament history.

“Quotable …”

“I think just I’m enjoying every moment that I get out there to play tennis right now. I think as an athlete you never know when it might be your last time, injury or something happens, God forbid. So many other things, they don’t matter, but what matters when you get out there is the time that you have certain windows throughout the match to live that moment. I think that’s all I’m trying to do right now.”

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, during his post-match press conference Saturday, on what it’s meant to mount a run to the title match this week in Paris.