Djokovic Makes Sharp Start To Paris Title Defence | ATP Tour
Playing for the first time since winning back-to-back indoor titles in early October, Novak Djokovic extended his win streak to 10 with a clinical victory against Maxime Cressy on Tuesday at the Rolex Paris Masters.
In a 7-6(1), 6-4 win against the Paris-born American, Djokovic was imperious on serve, which freed him up in his attempts to unlock Cressy’s booming delivery. The Serbian finally made his breakthrough on return to lead 5-4 in the second set as he converted on his fifth break point before serving out the match with ease.
“It was very intense, just a lot of pressure,” he said post-match. “When you play someone that serves this well — first and second serve — you don’t have much room to relax and maybe play kind of a softer few games. You just have to be on your toes all the time. Credit to him for serving big in some big moments. I had my chances [in the] first set to break him, second as well.
“A break came at the right time, perfect time actually. I was very pleased with the way I held my serve, didn’t face a break point,” he added, noting the fast conditions that made it even harder to return.
Cressy hung tough in the opening set, saving three break points with his all-out attack, but two double faults in the tie-break were more than enough for Djokovic to seal the set. The American hit 15 aces and 10 double faults overall as he remained committed to his aggressive game plan. While the strategy was effective on his own serve, he could not make inroads on Djokovic’s delivery, with the Serb losing just six points on serve and not facing a break point.
“I had to lock in, I had to not give him gifts and points,” Djokovic said. “What I could do and what I wanted to do is to really do what I do best, which is just be solid from the back of the court and wait for the opportunities when they are presented, try to capitalise on them… Just overall very pleased with the way I felt and the way I played.”
Despite many short points, the sixth seed was still able to flash his athleticism throughout the one-hour, 43-minute match — particularly on a backhand passing shot that helped him to the decisive break in set two, after which he basked in the adoration of the Paris crowd
The Serbian’s stellar returning was on full display against one of the ATP Tour’s biggest servers, his brilliance in that particular department illustrated by his INSIGHTS: Shot Quality score, which is measured on a 10-point scale.
Djokovic was full of praise for his opponent’s unique game following the match, and he described how Cressy’s serve-and-volley style affected his approach on return.
“It does change a lot because not only do you have to get the return back, but you hav to put it under his feet, which is very difficult to do,” he explained. “It’s nice to see someone that comes in after fist and second serve,” he said. “It just gives a different look from the tennis fans’ point of view. I appreciate that, I respect that. It takes courage to play with this modern tennis nowadays this kind of style that is almost an ancient style. You don’t have many players that do that. Possibly he’s the only one at the top.”
Djokovic has now won 24 straight matches against Americans and also owns a 10-match win streak in Paris dating back to his title runs in 2019 and 2021 (he did not play in 2020). He is seeking his fifth title of the season after triumphs at Rome, Wimbledon, Tel Aviv and Astana, the latter two coming in consecutive weeks spanning from September to October.
Those results have helped the Serbian to qualify for the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals later this month. He is one of six players already confirmed for Turin, joining Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud and Daniil Medvedev.
Did You Know?
Djokovic is the only player to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 events, completing the Career Golden Masters twice on his way to a record 38 titles at the prestigious level.