Djokovic holds off Monfils for fifth season crown

Paris, Nov 16 (DPA) Novak Djokovic battled to his fifth tennis title of the season winning the Paris Masters 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3) over Gael Monfils.

The third seed added honours at the Bercy Arena here Sunday to his Basle trophy a week ago over Roger Federer as he triumphed in just under three hours on a sixth Monfils double-fault.

Monfils had been aiming for a second year of French success at home after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lifted the crown in 2008.

Djokovic is now the form player heading into the eight-man World Tour Finals, starting in a week in London.

He could have a chance of taking world No 2 ranking from Rafael Nadal, whom he crushed in the semi-finals.

Djokovic won his third ATP final in six weeks, after Beijing in October and Basle last weekend.

He looked set for a comfortable afternoon leading 6-2, 3-0 before Monfils mounted a fightback.

The 15th seed thrilled 14,000 home fans by recovering to win the second set and coming from 4-1 down in the third to force the tiebreak.

“I’ve lost in the last four Masters finals that I’ve played this year, and it was kind of in my head,” said Djokovic.

“I was thinking about it, and it wasn’t a pleasant feeling, especially when I saw Gael getting into the rhythm more. Of course big support of the crowd gave him even more motivation and more energy toward the end of the match.

“I was kind of fighting him and fighting the big pressure of the crowd. I was trying to hold all my nerves. In the end of the match, I threw all my emotions out and was happy.”

Monfils, third in French national rankings behind Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon, missed out on becoming the third Frenchman to win the Bercy title this decade after Tsonga in 2008 and Sebastien Grosjean in 2001.

Djokovic added a win to his ATP-leading record to stand 76-18 at the end of regular season play, the most wins of any player this season. He also leads the table on ten final appearances.

The Serb was playing his fifth Masters 1000 final of 2009, including three consecutive – Miami, Monte Carlo (where he lost to Rafael Nadal in three sets) and Rome (another loss to the Spaniard).

Nadal stands 5-5 in finals this season.

“I was getting slower and slower towards the end of the match,” said the winner, with just a few days to wind down before the start in London.

“I didn’t have great reactions on the return, and that caused me a lot of problems, because then he was winning his service games easily in that third set.

“I really feel that I’m in a great form right now, and that’s all. I have a lot of confidence. I don’t want to waste any tournaments. I want to perform my best on every match I play.

“Winning any Masters 1000 Series is a huge win, so I would rate it as one of my biggest wins.”