BNP Paribas Masters Final Novak Djokovic Wins 6th ATP 1000 title of Season
Novak Djokovic (1) beat Andy Murray (2) 6-2, 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Masters Final at Paris-Bercy to lift a record sixth ATP 1000 trophy in a season. The Tennis Review looks back at the world no. 1’s all too familiar march to a big title and defeat of one of his biggest rivals.
Novak Djokovic’s 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Andy Murray in the BNP Masters final was a familiar scene. The Serbian had defeated the Scot in nine of their previous ten matches, only slipping up in this season’s Montreal final.
Murray produced his best tennis that day in August and the consensus was that he would have to do so again in Paris-Bercy. But against Djokovic, producing your best is a tough task- the world no.1 quite simply does everything in his power to stop you.
Djokovic anticipated Murray would attack, the only viable winning strategy available for the Scot, and was careful not to give him any pace to feed off, to get as many balls back as possible and let the Murray errors come his way.
That was a winning strategy- Murray is not, at heart, an attacking player, and though he tore away at his forehand and stepped into the court, he missed the lines more than he painted them, and before he knew it he was a break down at 1-3.
A break down early in the first set was the worst possible scenario for Murray against the game’s best returner, a player whose own highly efficient serving made him difficult to break and an opponent who was as comfortable running away with matches against you as he was at running all over the ATP’s slow hard-courts.
Before long an even worse scenario presented itself-Murray was looking at the prospect of being a double break down. Memories of their Shanghai semi-final must have been hovering around in Murray’s sub-conscious somewhere. Confidence wrecking memories.
To his credit, Murray did not let those memories get him down. He did not surrender behind the baseline but kept on with his attacking strategy to save a break point with a deft volley, produced a fine winning serve out wide to the forehand side, and benefited from a Djokovic forehand error to fight back to 2-3.
That was as close as the score line would read for set one. Djokovic served with his usual calculated efficiency and backed the serve up with deep second balls, punished Murray’s weaker service deliveries, and did what he does best- stepped up his game on the big points.
Rather than play every point as if it was a big one, like he did in Shanghai, Djokovic, instead saved his best for the big moments, stepping inside the court, and executing the game’s smoothest transition from defense to attack that has made him so effective on the tour’s slower surfaces.
Djokovic earned another break point leading 4-2 and converted it as Murray, who once again had the right idea, coming in after the serve to take on a short ball with his forehand, went for too much and netted the strike.
Two breaks under his belt, Djokovic served out the first set 6-2, Murray’s 19th unforced error helping his cause, and then went about his history-making business in the second.
Murray did his best to perform his duty as the second seed and put up a fight, fending off break points in his opening service game, and winning it with a second service ace. However, his efforts were not enough as Djokovic took an early break for 2-1, involving Murray in a long baseline rally, pulling him out wide and then winning the point at the net as a Murray lob went long.
Murray did not lessen his efforts though and responded the best possible way, breaking back, to love no less, a huge return that forced an error on break point a reminder he was in the conversation when it came to the game’s best returners on the ATP tour.
The top two seeds went all the way to 3-3 before an enthusiastic crowd pleased to see a possible contest shaping, but just as has been the case in so much of Djokovic’s 22 match winning streak, those competitive moments were fleeting. Djokovic once again produced his best when it mattered, breaking Murray for 4-3, and then holding his serve twice more to charge over the finish line 6-2, 6-4.
The stag-shaped trophy was Djokovic’s tenth of the season, his sixth ATP 1000 prize (a record), his 26th ATP 1000 title overall, (second place), and his 27th win in 2015 over a top tenner (another record). That win was over the new world no.2 (Murray has to win two WTF RR matches to achieve his highest year end finish) in a rivalry that does not look to be getting competitive anytime soon.
But that is a whole different article. For now the story is Djokovic’ remarkable achievement of perfecting a game that perfectly capitalizes on the tour’s slower surfaces, his skill of negating every one of his opponent’s strengths and a game which, despite being more than good enough, continues to improve.
The Serbian has, on the back of those qualities, arguably compiled the best season ever and if he wins the upcoming WTF, in what would be another all too familiar scene, that argument will be won as easily as his recent slew of titles seem to be.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
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