By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic saw off Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-3 6-4 to win a record-extending fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday in a warning to his rivals ahead of the ATP Finals.
The Serbian faced only one break point in another impressive display to claim a 34th career Masters title against world number 28 Shapovalov, who was playing his first final at that level.
“I served very well, there were not many rallies in the match. A break in each set was enough, it was the best serving performance in this tournament,” said Djokovic, who did not drop a set this week as he won his 77th ATP title.
“It was his first Masters final so in a way experience prevailed. But I played very solidly today. Maybe he lost his focus a bit.”
Shapovalov, who will reach a career-high 15th in the ATP rankings on Monday, ended the tournament with a sense of pride, knowing that there was little he could do against an almost unplayable Djokovic.
“Credit to Novak,” he said. “Of course it’s a tough ending but he was the better player,” added the Canadian, who has now lost all four of his matches against 16-times grand slam winner Djokovic.
Djokovic, who started the week with a cold, is now one Masters title shy of Rafael Nadal’s all-time record and on Sunday, the 32-year-old was untouchable at the Bercy arena.
Djokovic, who will be supplanted by Nadal at top of the ATP rankings on Monday, made a fine start, stealing Shapovalov’s first service game as he opened a 3-0 lead.
The Serb was never threatened in the opening set, dropping only four points on serve as Shapovalov looked tight having not played on Saturday following Nadal’s withdrawal.
The 20-year-old faced a break point in the first game of the second set, saving it with a powerful first serve but a forehand error on Djokovic’s second opportunity gave his opponent a decisive 4-3 lead.
Djokovic then held serve throughout to snatch a morale-boosting victory ahead of the Nov. 10-17 ATP Finals in London, where he will be looking to secure the year-end world number one spot.
“I’m in a better position (to finish the season as world number one) than I was before this tournament but the only thing I can do is to focus on my game,” said Djokovic.
Nadal’s participation in the Finals is in doubt after the Spaniard sustained an abdominal injury in the warm-up to Saturday’s semi-final in Paris.
Twenty-times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer skipped the event to be fresh for the season-ender at the O2.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)