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TennisBalls News • Djokovic Defeats Shapovalov For Fifth Career Title At BNP Paribas Masters

By Ricky Dimon

The race is on for the year-end No. 1 ranking after Novak Djokovic captured his fifth BNP Paribas Masters title on Sunday afternoon.

Djokovic moved to within 640 points of Rafael Nadal in the 2019 race by beating Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4 in the Paris final. The top-seeded Serb served at 71 percent and saved the only break point he faced while triumphing in one hour and five minutes.

“It was my best serving performance of the tournament,” Djokovic said. “Denis maybe lost his focus a bit.”

It would be understandable if that was the case for Shapovalov, who was playing in his first career Masters 1000 title match. It did not help that the 20-year-old Canadian was going up against an opponent who is now 12-1 since the U.S. Open.

“It was tough for me to find a groove just because he was really, really picking his spots on the serve,” Shapovalov explained. “Big credit to him. He played an amazing match and had a great week. I wish him the best of luck for London.”

Djokovic must reach the London final in order to have a chance of finishing ahead of Nadal in the year-end rankings. Nadal, who is questionable with an abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw from a Paris semifinal against Shapovalov, can force Djokovic to capture the title if he wins at least two matches. 

A Djokovic victory over Nadal in the London final would be enough for the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion if he goes undefeated the whole week and Nadal loses at least one round-robin match.

Despite Djokovic’s Paris triumph, the Spaniard will regain the No. 1 world ranking on Monday. He is also expected to learn more about his injury early in the week, perhaps in time for Tuesday’s draw ceremony.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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