March 24, 2023

Novak Djokovic saw his twin 13-match win streaks snapped by Holger Rune in Sunday’s Rolex Paris Masters final, but leaves the ATP Masters 1000 event full of confidence ahead of the Nitto ATP Finals. The Serbian had recorded 13 straight victories both overall and in Bercy, where he won the 2019 and 2021 titles.

Djokovic gave Rune full credit for the upset victory, providing a glowing assessment of both the Dane’s level and his own.

“Of course I’m disappointed with the loss today, but I was very close. It was just very few points that decided a winner,” he reflected. “But the level of tennis that I’m playing is high, and I like my chances [in Turin]. Of course, every match is like a final there. There are no easy matches.”

While the Serbian rued his missed chances in the final, where he was seeking a record-extending seventh Paris title, he spent more time discussing the excellence of his 19-year-old opponent.

“He stayed composed also mentally all the way to the last shot,” Djokovic said of Rune. “For somebody who is so young to show this composure and maturity in the big match like this is very impressive. He’s had a week of his life, I mean, winning against five Top 10 players, it’s quite impressive.”

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Now set to break into the Top 10 himself, Rune will join fellow 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, the World No. 1, in that elite group. Djokovic, who has faced both players this season, shared his view on their games.

“They are similar in terms of physicality,” he said. “I think they are both really fit. They train very hard. They are very dedicated guys. They defend, both of them, extremely well. Rune has a better backhand. Alcaraz has a better forehand. But they are both improving on those shots that maybe are not as good as maybe other shots.

“When I say ‘not as good’, meaning it’s not huge difference,” he clarified, noting both men are still strong on their weaker wing. “They have great shots, great forehand from Rune or great backhand from Alcaraz.

“They are very complete players for 19-year-olds. It’s quite impressive. Also their energy on the court, just wanting, motivating themselves and wanting to do well and staying mentally present, it’s impressive.”

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While Alcaraz will miss the Nitto ATP Finals with an oblique injury, Rune’s Paris run earned him a place as the first alternate in Turin. Djokovic will be seeking his sixth title at the season finale, but his first since 2015.

“Every tournament is important at this stage of my career. Anywhere I play, I try to win. That’s not a secret,” he said when asked about his hunger to return to the winners’ circle. “That’s kind of my mentality and approach coming into [Turin]. I feel very good on the court. I think I’m playing very, very good tennis.”

He will now have one week to prepare for his second appearance at the Pala Alpitour.

“You’ve got to be fit, fresh,” Djokovic continued. “Good thing is that you have a day between every match in the group stage, so you have time to recover between each match, which is good.

“Let’s see. I played there last year, played really good tennis. Played semis, tight match against Zverev, who was the eventual champion. So I know that the conditions are different. The ball is flying more because it’s altitude. It’s quite fast. You’ve got to serve well. I’ll be there some days before to train, and hopefully be at my best.”

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