Paris Flashback: Novak Djokovic defends title over Milos Raonic



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Paris Flashback: Novak Djokovic defends title over Milos Raonic

In 2013 and 2014, Novak Djokovic delivered two similar seasons with seven titles in each, including one Major and multiple Masters 1000 crowns. It was not enough to finish 2013 in front of Rafael Nadal, though, returning to the top a year later after conquering Wimbledon, four Masters 1000 titles and the ATP Finals.

Novak regained the ATP throne after the All England Club and stayed there for almost two and a half years. Djokovic lost just eight matches in 2014, and three of those came during the North American hardcourt swing. The Serb bounced back stronger to win Beijing, Paris and the ATP Finals and finish the season on a high note, forging the path for an even stronger dominance in 2015.

Competing as the defending champion in Paris in 2014, Novak won all five matches in straight sets to win the third Masters crown in the French capital and become the first defending champion since the tournament moved to Bercy in 1986!

The Serb had to face three consecutive top-10 players en route to the title, and they could not challenge him. Djokovic defeated Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori to set up the title match against Milos Raonic, who took down Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych for his second Masters 1000 final.

On November 2, the Canadian failed to do much against the mighty Serb, who clinched a 6-2, 6-3 triumph in an hour and 23 minutes for the 20th Masters 1000 crown. It was the 600th ATP win for Novak, who earned it after an excellent performance on serve, dropping 15 points in nine service games and fending off all four break points to keep the pressure on Milos.

The Canadian hit 20 service winners, but that was all he could do, losing 45% of the points behind the initial shot and suffering three breaks from nine chances offered to Novak. The Serb had to reduce the rival's power in the shortest points up to four shots, and he did that with fantastic efficiency, creating more damage with his first groundstroke and returning in a way to take energy off from Milos' forehand.

Novak Djokovic defended the Paris Masters title in 2014.

Novak was miles in front in the mid-range exchanges from five to eight strokes as well, taming his strokes nicely and hitting only ten unforced errors. Djokovic held at love in the opening game and created a break chance in the second after a deep return.

Milos sprayed a volley error to experience the break and chase the result right from the start. A service winner moved Novak 3-0 up before earning another break chance in the fourth game, denied by Milos' service winner, who added his name to the scoreboard.

A return winner gave Milos a break point in the next game, sending an easy forehand wide and missing a huge chance. Novak held after his rival's another forehand error to move 4-1 up and grabbed three break points a few minutes later that could have pushed him closer to the opener.

Milos fended them off to bring the game home and stay within one break deficit before creating three break chances in game seven. His shots were just not there in the crucial moments, though, allowing Djokovic to win five points in a row and avoid the setback.

The Serb moved 5-2 up before taking a medical timeout on his right leg, which did not disturb his rhythm. Novak rattled off four straight points on the return in game eight to grab the set 6-2 after 43 minutes, taking advantage of Raonic's poor shot selection and building momentum ahead of the second set.

Novak held after a fantastic point in the opening game and broke in the next one after Milos's double fault. Three winners pushed Djokovic 5-2 in front, and he earned two match points on the return in game eight that Raonic repelled with two winners, giving his best to prolong the match.

The Canadian blasted a 227 km/h ace to bring the game home, but that was all we saw from him. Novak sealed the deal with a forehand down the line winner a few minutes later to wrap up the victory and lift his third Paris crown in the last six years, becoming the most successful player at this event after Marat Safin.