Paris: Novak Djokovic won an unprecedented sixth Masters title of the year on Sunday when he defeated Andy Murray 6-2, 6-4 in Paris to put the finishing touches to one of the greatest years in tennis history.
The top seed won the series-closing title for an unprecedented third straight year and a fourth time in all as he dominated the Scottish second seed from start to finish in 1hr 32mins.
The win brought Djokovic’s final regular season win-loss record to a stunning 78-5 and took his unbeaten run, stretching back to August 23, to 22 matches.
He will now go on to the World Tour Finals in London as an outstanding favourite, having won three out of four Grand Slam titles and six out of nine Masters 1000 series titles in 2015.
The only Grand Slam final he lost was the last time he played in Paris, at the French Open in June, when he was beaten in the final in four sets by Stan Wawrinka.
“I think I was very solid from the very first point, very similar to a performance I have had against him in Shanghai in terms of intensity and strength in the shots and really protecting the baseline, trying to be the one that dictates the play,” said world number one Djokovic.
“There was couple of games in the second set where he started turning things around … but I managed to stay tough, save my service game on 3-2, and I think that after that point I felt that I had a good chance to finish off the match in straight sets.
“It was, all in all, the best performance of the week, and it came at the right time.”
In what was the first Paris Masters final since 1990 featuring the top two seeds, Djokovic stamped his authority on the match from the start.
He won eight straight points from the end of the first game to move clear and pile the pressure on Murray, who had lost nine out of the last 10 matches between the two.
The Scot looked increasingly tight and edgy, electing to play a series of drop shots to avoid a baseline battle with Djokovic which he was so far losing comprehensively.
Djokovic digs deep –
Another dropped serve by Murray in the seventh game saw the Serb then pocket the set 6-2 in 42 minutes.
When a rampant Djokovic broke again in the third game of the second set it looked all over, but out of the blue Murray broke to love to revive his hopes.
Playing for the first time in the Paris final, the Scot moved 3-2 up and had pressure on Djokovic’s next serve.
But as he has done all year, the Serb dug deep to level and then break again in the following game as Murray faltered.
Two games later it was all over, Murray stabbing a backhand wide as Djokovic raised his arms in triumph over what he had achieved.
At just 28, it was his 26th Masters Series title, just one shy of Rafael Nadal in first place.
Murray made it clear before Paris that his priority for the year was the Davis Cup final against Belgium in Ghent in late November when he will try to win the trophy for Britain for the first time since 1936.
“It was a tough one,” he said of his 21st loss to Djokovic against just nine wins.
“I would have liked to have done better, but, I mean, getting to the finals of a Masters Series is good. It’s not like it’s a bad result, but I would like to have done better today.”