Novak Djokovic fought for his 7th Paris Masters title and 39th Masters 1000 trophy against Danish youngster Holger Rune. After a thrilling clash, the youngsters came through the experience, as Holger prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 33 minutes for his first Masters 1000 crown and a top-10 spot.
Novak had his chances to seal the deal and emerge on top, creating three break chances early in the second set and wasting a game point that could have pushed him 4-1 in front in the decider. Also, the Serb made one last push as he trailed 6-5 in the final set, creating six break chances in game 12 but wasting them to push the young gun over the top.
Djokovic won five more points, but not the crucial ones. Holger erased ten of 12 break chances to remain competitive and converted all three break chances to cross the finish line first. The Dane played aggressive tennis and shot 43 winners and 33 unforced errors.
Novak dominated on his first serve and hit more winners than Holger. However, the youngster climbed back into the longer baseline exchanges, taming his strikes well and staying focused when he mattered most.
Novak dropped five points in five first-set service games to get off to a confident start. He broke Holger in game four after double faults from the opponent and served well for 6-3.
Novak Djokovic lost the Paris Masters final to Holger Rune.
Rune fended off all three break chances in the second set and converted his only chance on the return to stay competitive and enter a decider.
The Dane broke in game two and controlled the pace in the remaining service games for 6-3, gathering momentum and submitting the final set after one hour and 20 minutes. Novak broke in game four and had a chance to go up 4-1 in the next.
Instead, Holger extended that game with a backhand down the line winner and dropped back for more drama. Djokovic made a forehand error in the 11th game to fall behind 6-5 and allow the opponent to serve for the title. Game 12 was a real roller coaster ride, with Novak creating six break points that could have prolonged the battle.
After challenging for 17 minutes, Rune saved them and converted the second match point to become the youngest champion in Paris since Boris Becker in 1986. «What impresses me most about Holger is his fighting spirit. He was mentally composed until the last shot.
Showing this composure and maturity in a big match like this at his age is very impressive. Holger has beaten five top 10 players, and this is a week in his life. I had my chances in every set, but he came in as a deserved winner.
I didn’t use a 40-0 lead at the start of the second set, and those were the moments where the match went one way or the other. He would have had a good chance of beating him if he had taken a break, but he managed to turn it around.
The crowd sided with him and lifted him up. It was an exciting battle and I blew the lead in the decider. Holger was brave and went for the shots from him. I wasn’t active enough with my feet, I made unusual mistakes in the crucial moments,» Novak Djokovic said.