The last regular-season tournament final of 2009, between Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils, went down to the wire.
After making his Grand Slam breakthrough in 2008 with a victory at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic was unable to follow up with another triumph in 2009. His best result at one of the majors was a semifinal finish at the US Open.
Post-New York, though, Djokovic played some of his best tennis of the year. In a three-tournament span, the Serb won two titles and lost in a third-set tiebreak in the semifinals of the other.
At the Paris Masters, the last regular-season event of the year, Djokovic’s torrid form in the fall continued as he reached his fourth 1000-level final in 2009, dropping only one set along the way.
Coming through on the top half of the draw—hit hard by the early-round upsets of Roger Federer and Andy Murray—was the 15th seed, Gael Monfils. It was only a few weeks earlier that Monfils won his second career title—and first since 2005—in Metz, France. In Paris, the Frenchman beat Federer and Murray’s conquerors on his way to his first Masters 1000 championship match.
Playing each other for the first time in more than a year, it was Djokovic—more accustomed to playing in bigger matches—who got off to an impressive start. He broke Monfils’ serve twice in the opening frame to take the first set 6-2.
It was more of the same early in the second as Djokovic was soon up 3-0.
Monfils—and the partisan crowd—wouldn’t let the match go without a fight. The home favorite got a break back to even things up at three apiece. He secured another break late to take the second set 7-5 to level the match.
In the decider, Djokovic appeared to put the missed opportunities of the second set behind him, going up a break, but Monfils broke back. That scenario repeated itself once more, and it came down to a tiebreak to decide the match. But in the tiebreak, Monfils couldn’t maintain his level of play: At 3-6 down, he double-faulted, giving Djokovic his fifth title of 2009 and the fifth Masters title of his career.
Monfils became the fourth Frenchman to make the final of the tournament in its history. The other three—Guy Forget, Sebastian Grosjean and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga—all won the title in their first final there. As the defending champion, Forget lost his second title-match appearance to Boris Becker in 1992.
Djokovic’s Paris Masters final was the seventh different 1000-level tournament out of nine that he reached the championship round. The only tournaments he hadn’t reached the final were in Madrid and Shanghai.
The Paris final was Djokovic’s 94th match of the year, the most of any player on tour, and his regular-season record was 76-18.
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