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Ricky’s preview and pick for the Paris final: Novak Djokovic vs. Holger Rune

The first-ever meeting between Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune came in the first round of the 2021 U.S. Open. A final, however, is more along the lines of where you would expect them to go head-to-head if they continue to meet in the future.

That is exactly where they will find themselves on Sunday afternoon at the Rolex Paris Masters, and for Rune it is a fourth consecutive ATP title match. The 19-year-old Dane stormed into the last Masters 1000 event of the season on the heels of runner-up performances in Sofia and Basel to go along with a title in Stockholm. He is now 18-2 in his last 20 matches following victories this week over Stan Wawrinka, Hubert Hurkacz, Andrey Rublev, Carlos Alcaraz, and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Prior to Saturday, Auger-Aliassime had won three tournaments in a row–including a defeat of Rune in the Basel championship match.

For Djokovic, this marks a record 56th Masters 1000 final appearance. The 21-time Grand Slam champ booked his spot in it by defeating Maxime Cressy, Karen Khachanov, Lorenzo Musetti, and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Djokovic did not drop a set in any of his first three matches but needed a third-set tiebreaker to outlast Tsitsipas on Saturday.

Now it will be another clash of generations on Sunday, with 16 years separating the two competitors. The first one went Djokovic’s way, but Rune accounted himself well for a while in Flushing Meadows and even took the second set off the Serb before wearing down the rest of the way.

Rune is a much better and much physically fitter player 15 months later, but that may not make it any easier to beat Djokovic. The world No. 7 is well rested at the end of a somewhat abbreviated campaign and a title would be his third in succession this fall following recent triumphs in Tel Aviv and Astana. It is also worth noting that Djokovic is 45-8 lifetime in Paris (13-0 in his last 13 matches) with six titles.

As well as Rune is playing, it’s almost impossible to bet against Djokovic on this stage.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

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