Paris 2009: Novak Djokovic prevails against Gael Monfils in a thriller



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Paris 2009: Novak Djokovic prevails against Gael Monfils in a thriller

Eight seeds had reached the quarter-final at 2009 Paris Masters but Roger Federer wasn't among them, suffering a shocking defeat to Julien Benneteau in the third round to stay empty-handed once again at the last Masters 1000 event of the season.

The other favorites were still in the draw and we saw some nice encounters in the battle for the semi-final, with Nadal dethroning Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic edges Robin Soderling in three sets. A former finalist Radek Stepanek scored another great result and he faced Gael Monfils for the place in the title match.

Novak Djokovic was too strong against Rafael Nadal, scoring one of his most convincing triumphs against the Spaniard and facing Gael Monfils in the title match. It was another rock solid season for Novak, staying firmly in the Top 3 and winning five titles, including his maiden Paris Masters.

A week earlier Novak won the title in Basel and he carried that form to France as well, edging Monfils 6-2 5-7 7-6 in two hours and 44 minutes to break the hearts of the French crowd. This was their fourth match and the fourth win for Novak (none of those were easy, though) who performed better on his second serve to earn the crown, winning 14 points more than Monfils who fought until the very last point to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats.

The Serb lost his serve four times and he break Gael on five occasions from 10 chances earned, outplaying him completely in the mid-range rallies to overcome the deficit from the shortest points where Monfils had the advantage thanks to his booming serves and 34 service winners.

Djokovic drew first blood in game four when Monfils netted a forehand and he cemented the lead with four winners in the next game for a 4-1 after just 15 minutes. Another forehand winner in game seven pushed him 5-2 up and he claimed the opener in 31 minutes with another break in game eight when Gael hit a double fault.

Djokovic was the ruler of the court, just like against Nadal in the previous day, moving Monfils around the baseline and controlling the pace with his deep and accurate groundstrokes. He broke Gael in the second game of the second set after a great defense and another commanding serve sent him 3-0 up following a forehand winner.

Monfils finally held serve in game four after a deuce to end his downfall and he pulled the break back in the next game thanks to a poor volley from Novak at the net. A hold at love brought Gael back on the level terms at 3-3 and he was the better player on the court now, creating another break point in game seven.

Djokovic fends it off with a volley winner but there was another one in game nine that he denied with a great attack. The Frenchman was determined to grab this set and he did that after a great return in game 11 that pushed him 6-5 up, holding at 15 with a service winner in the next game to clinch the set 7-5 and force the deciding set.

Novak stayed focused and he broke in the second game of the final set, only to spray a forehand error a few minutes later to give his serve away and keep Gael in contention. The third straight break came in game four after a double fault from Monfils and Djokovic created a 4-1 gap with a service winner in game five, moving closer to the finish line.

It was Novak's turn for a double fault in the worst possible moment in game seven, getting broken and allowing Gael to lock up the result at 4-4 with a smash winner, giving the crowd something to cheer about. They both held with ease in the last four games and an ace from Monfils sent them into a deciding tie break after two hours and 34 minutes of a thrilling contest.

Novak clinched a 34-shot rally to move 5-3 in front and a smash winner gave him three match points. He needed only one, though, as Gael fired another double fault to end this great match in the worst possible way and stay empty-handed.

At the age of 22, Novak had already won five different Masters 1000 titles and it was only a matter of time when he would win the next one and get closer to that magic number of nine. Results from the quarter-final stage:

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