Paris Flashback: Novak Djokovic edges Gael Monfils and wins title

Eight seeds reached the quarter-final at the 2009 Paris Masters. However, Roger Federer was not among them after a shocking defeat to Julien Benneteau in the third round. The other favorites were still in the title chase, with excellent encounters in a battle for the semi-final. Nadal dethroned Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Djokovic prevailed over Soderling in three sets to set the anticipated clash. Djokovic proved too strong for Nadal, scoring one of his most convincing triumphs against the Spaniard and arranging the final encounter against Gael Monfils. A week earlier, Novak conquered the Basel title and carried that form to France. In a memorable final, Djokovic prevailed over Monfils 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 in grueling two hours and 44 minutes to break the French crowd’s hearts and prevent the second consecutive home champion.

It was their fourth match and the fourth triumph for Novak, performing better on his second serve to earn the crown against an inspired rival. The Serb lost his serve four times and broke Gael on five occasions from ten chances. He outplayed him entirely in the mid-range rallies to overcome the deficit from the shortest points, where Monfils had the advantage thanks to 34 service winners. Djokovic drew first blood in game four when Monfils netted a forehand and cemented the lead with four winners in the next one for 4-1 after swift 15 minutes. Another forehand winner pushed the Serb 5-2 up, and he claimed the opener in 31 minutes with another break in game eight after Gael’s double fault.

Novak Djokovic claimed his first Paris Masters title in 2009 over Gael Monfils.

Novak was the ruler on the court, like against Nadal the previous day, moving Monfils around the baseline and controlling the pace with his deep and accurate groundstrokes. He broke Gael in the second set’s second game after a great defense and delivered another commanding hold that sent him 3-0 up following a forehand winner. Monfils finally held in game four after deuce and pulled the break back a few minutes later thanks to Novak’s weak volley at the net. A hold at love brought Gael back on the level terms at 3-3, performing as a better player now. He drew energy from his partisan crowd that carried him toward another break chance in game seven.

Djokovic fended it off with a volley winner and did the same at 4-4 with a great attack. Determined to claim the set, the Frenchman landed a deep return in game 11 that pushed him 6-5 up and held at 15 in the next one with a service winner for 7-5 and a decider. Novak stayed focused and broke in the final set’s second game. Still, he sprayed a forehand error a few minutes later to give serve away and keep Gael in contention. The third straight break came in game four after Monfils’ double fault, and Djokovic created a 4-1 gap with a service winner that moved him closer to the finish line.

It was Novak’s turn for a double fault in the worst moment at 4-2, getting broken and allowing Gael to lock up the result at 4-4 with a smash winner in game eight. They both held with ease in the last four games, and an ace from Monfils at 5-6 sent them into a deciding tie break after two hours and 34 minutes of a thrilling contest. Novak clinched a 34-shot rally to move 5-3 in front, and a smash winner gave him three match points. He needed only one, as Gael fired another double fault to end this excellent encounter in the worst possible way. At 22, Novak had already won five different Masters 1000 titles, taking significant steps toward completing all nine in the future.