PARIS: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic defeated defending champion David Ferrer 7-5, 7-5 yesterday to win the Paris Masters after a thrilling final at the Bercy arena.
The Spaniard twice served for both sets only for the six-time Grand Slam winner to show his pedigree and break at the crucial moments before holding serve to close out the first set and then the match.
Ferrer fell short of becoming the first player to successfully defend the Paris title while Djokovic took another step towards regaining the number one spot from Rafael Nadal heading to the World Tour Finals.
It was also Djokovic’s 40th ATP title victory, the 15th player to reach this milestone.
“I’m full of joy right now and this is one of the biggest weeks of the tennis season so I’m really happy and just want to continue like this,” said the 26-year-old Serbian.
“This win has given me a lot of confidence and we’ll see now what happens in London,” he added in reference to the World Tour Finals where he still has a chance to take the world number one spot from Nadal.
Ferrer grabbed the first break after a punishing rally at 30-40 was finally won by the Spaniard with a perfect drop shot that left the number one candidate stranded at the back of the court.
Djokovic, true to his sportsmanlike mannner, applauded his opponent’s brilliance as the crowd roared their approval at the sheer quality of the tennis.
The Serb carved out his first break point of the match in the following game, but Ferrer held firm and built his resilience on his excellent first serve which was reaping him a winning percentage of 80 percent.
With the Spaniard serving for the set at 5-4, Djokovic launched his assault and this time on break point he fired a forehand winner that grazed the line and pulled him back on level terms.
After serving out to love to go 6-5 up, the Davis Cup finalist seized his first set point when Ferrer hit long as the set swung surprisingly into Djokovic’s hands.
Ferrer shook off the disappointment of letting that first frame slip from his grasp and broke to open the second set before a tough service hold gave him a 2-0 lead.
The set then went to serve before the defending champion again had a chance to close out the frame at 5-4 only for Djokovic to break at the crucial moment to once again level the set.
In an exact repeat of the opening set, Ferrer cracked at the worst possible moment as Djokovic pounced on his opponent to tie the set before serving out for the title.
Meanwhile, Italy cruised to a fourth Fed Cup title when Sara Errani gave the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 victory over Russian Alisa Kleybanova.
Roberta Vinci and world number seven Errani had given Italy, the champions in 2006, 2009 and 2010, a 2-0 lead on Saturday with victories over Alexandra Panova and Irina Khromachava respectively.
However, despite showing glimpses of promise, notably a powerful serve which at times Errani struggled to return, the 24-year-old Russian was outclassed by the more experienced Italian.
Errani, 26, had the Cagliari Tennis Club in jubilant mood after racing to a 6-1 victory in the first set and although Kleybanova rallied in the second to take the third game on serve, Errani was never under threat.
The Italian broke Kleybanova to take a 4-1 lead when the Russian sent a wild return into the tramlines.
And after reinforcing her advantage in the next game the Italian finished in style, breaking Kleybanova’s serve when the Russian fumbled a return at the net in the seventh and final game to secure the win. AGENCIES