Third-seeded Novak Djokovic scrambled to a 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (3) victory over Gael Monfils to win the Paris Masters for the first time in his career on Sunday.
The 22-year-old Serb survived a 2 hours and 43 minutes battle to win back-to-back ATP titles after defeatin Roger Federer in the Swiss Indoors final.
Djokovic looked set for a comfortable triumph after winning the first set in just half an hour, but then struggled physically to stay at the same level.
“It was unbelievably difficult,” said the world No. 3, who has won a record 76 matches on the tour this season and claimed his first Masters 1000 tournament of the year following four defeats in finals.
“Gael was very unpredictable and he was hitting the ball very good.”
The former Australian Open winner fell on his knees and screamed on the centre court when Monfils - who was chasing his third career title – double-faulted on the Serb’s first match point.
“I didn’t find any solution in the beginning, I was playing too defensive”, Monfils said. “But I didn’t lose faith in my chances and I almost overturned the match.”
Djokovic, who earned his 16th career title, broke in the fourth game of the first set when Monfils missed two consecutive forehands.
Losing only three points on his serve in the first set, Djokovic pumped his fist went he took a 5-2 lead with a forehand winner down the line. He won the set in the next game when Monfils made his first double fault.
Monfils, who said he was exhausted after his win over Radek Stepanek in the semifinals, was broken for the second time in a row when Djokovic opened up a 2-0 lead in the second set with a passing shot at his opponent’s feet.
But Djokovic - who made 21 unforced errors in the second set - suddenly lost the momentum and Monfils finally gave his supporters something to cheer by converting his first break point of the match in the fifth game after Djokovic missed an easy backhand volley.
Monfils then leveled at 3-3 and kept the pressure on Djokovic, failing to convert three other chances to break before taking the Serb’s service with a return winner for a decisive 6-5 lead.
In the final set, Djokovic outpaced Monfils with a forehand winner to conclude a long rally in the second game, only to lose his serve immediately.
Although he still looked shaky, Djokovic broke in the fourth game with a little help from Monfils, who lost his serve with his third double fault of the match. Djokovic also double-faulted on Monfils’ break point in the seventh game and the 15th-seeded Frenchman levelled at 4-4 to force a tiebreaker.