Novak Djokovic has won praise around the tennis world after a wonderful act of class for Grigor Dimitrov after the Paris Masters final. Djokovic won his seventh Paris title and the 40th Masters 1000 crown of his career on Sunday, beating Dimitrov 6-4 6-3 in the final.
His sixth trophy of the year also helps Djokovic extend his lead over Carlos Alcaraz in the race for the year-end World No.1 ranking. The 24-time grand slam champion will almost certainly secure the top spot at next week's ATP Finals in Italy.
'DISGRACE': Tennis world in uproar amid Alex de Minaur twist
"It's incredible to be able to win after quite challenging circumstances for me this week," Djokovic said after the final. "Coming back from the brink of losing three matches in a row on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"I was close to losing those matches and somehow managed to find an extra gear when it was needed. Today, we both were quite tight at the beginning, and I could see that he was running out of gas a little bit.
"Myself as well, but I managed to find an extra shot over the net. The match was closer than the scoreline indicates but another amazing win for me. I'm very proud of this one."
Djokovic had a running battle with the Paris crowd all week and was booed relentlessly at times. But he well-and-truly won them over when he stopped a post-match interview to console a devastated Dimitrov.
Djokovic noticed that Dimitrov was sobbing into his towel on his court-side bench, before putting the interview on hold and walking over to his vanquished opponent to give him a hug. The 36-year-old also paid tribute to Dimitrov in his victory speech.
"I've been in these situations before many times... losing finals," he said. "I've been blessed to, of course, win more finals than I've lost. I really hope he'll continue to play at a high level. He's been playing some of his best tennis this week and I wish him all the best. I hope he can win big events."
True class and great sportsmanship from Novak
— Tim Pope (@timpope63) November 5, 2023
— Isabel (@Isabell72511602) November 5, 2023
I have such respect
for this man … 👏🥰❤️🏆🥇
— Cindy (@CindyBisho54852) November 5, 2023
Novak is a beautiful soul and sportsman, he makes me cry like Lewis Hamilton, God bless you both 🙏❣️
— Bonita Lisborg (@Howardroak) November 5, 2023
— Demi (@AdemolaFebian) November 5, 2023
Novak Djokovic on cups of securing year-end No.1 ranking
Sunday's final was a clash of the two oldest players in the world's top 20. The 36-year-old Djokovic drew first blood, breaking the 17th-ranked Dimitrov for a 4-3 lead in the opening set, and then closing it out comfortably in 51 minutes.
Dimitrov's only previous victory over Djokovic in 12 meetings had come a decade ago. And although the 32-year-old put up more of a fight in the second set, he couldn't prevent Djokovic from continuing his magnificent season.
Djokovic's 40th Masters 1000 title now pits him four ahead of Rafa Nadal's record and a whopping 12 ahead of Roger Federer. Djokovic is also now just three wins away from 100 career ATP titles, with only Jimmy Connors (109) and Federer (103) above him in the Open era.
Djokovic has now won 18 straight matches dating back to his loss to Alcaraz in the final at Wimbledon in July. He'll be red hot favourite for the season-ending ATP Finals starting on November 12.
"I haven't lost a match since the Wimbledon final, so I'm really excited to hopefully finish off the season on a high," said Djokovic. "Clinching the year-end No.1 and Davis Cup are the two biggest goals."
Djokovic now has a 1490-point lead over Alcaraz atop the ATP rankings. He needs just one win a the ATP Finals to guarantee he finishes 2023 as the world's top-ranked player.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.