Novak Djokovic defeats Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the Paris Masters, cementing his place as the best tennis player of all time.
Well, well, well.
He’s done it again.
Once more Novak Djokovic has returned from a lengthy layoff to remind the tennis world that age is just a number.
With all the talk surrounding young players like Sinner and Alcaraz in recent weeks, the final of the Paris Masters would be contested between two of the oldest players on the circuit.
Grigor Dimitrov (32) and Novak Djokovic (36) are two players whose careers have gone in very different directions.
Immensely talented, Dimitrov was once heralded as the next Roger Federer, but a combination of injuries and off the court factors meant that he never reached the heights that his talent once promised.
However, this season has represented somewhat of a resurgence for Dimitrov. The Bulgarian appears to be playing some of the best tennis of his career and this form was represented by his run to the Paris Masters final, his first Masters final since Cincinnati in 2017.
Dimitrov defeated top players Medvedev, Hurkacz and Tsitsipas on his way to the final in Paris to prove that, despite his age, he still has the ability to break into the top 10.
Despite his great run, unfortunately this article is not about Dimitrov’s first title in six years, rather it is about the unparalleled dominance of his opponent.
Very rarely in sport is someone able to dominate the future generations as much as Novak Djokovic is currently doing. Much was made of Roger Federer’s ability to compete well into his thirties, but what Djokovic is doing trumps merely competing.
He is dominating.
The Paris Masters was Djokovic’s first ATP tournament since the US Open, and the Serbian master spent little time dismantling Dimitrov in two straight forward sets, 6-4, 6-3. Not facing a single break point throughout.
Victory in Paris marked Djokovic’s 40th Masters 1000 title and puts his 2023 Hard Court record at 33-1.
Djokovic’s attention will now turn towards the ATP tour finals in Turin, where he will be aiming for a record breaking seventh title.
There doesn’t appear to be a more daunting task in sport at the moment than playing Novak Djokovic, with players appearing defeated before they even step foot on court.
Dimitrov was obviously emotional after his defeat but he needn’t be. Defeating Djokovic is something that every player on tour has found next to impossible at times, and Dimitrov’s run to the final has shown that he still has a lot more to offer the tour.
There have always been players who come into their own later in their careers, most recently Stan Wawrinka, and Dimitrov can take inspiration from Djokovic that it is not too late for him to still compete for Grand Slams.
That said, like the rest of the tour, he would have to beat Djokovic first.
Time after time Djokovic reminds us that, despite the rise of young talents, he is still the best player in the world. For those wondering what is making him play so well at his age, the answer is very simple.
The difference between Djokovic and everyone else is his mentality. It seems that every time he steps foot on the court, he has a chip on his shoulder to continue to prove that he, rather than Alcaraz, is the best player on the planet.
For years it was his rivalry with Federer and Nadal that fuelled him, but now the hype surrounding Alcaraz has kicked Djokovic’s competitiveness into another gear.
As long as Djokovic has a target to aim at, he will continue to compete at the top level. Like all the great sportsman, when he steps onto court it is do or die.
It appears that the next generation do not possess the mentality to compete with Djokovic’s relentlessness yet. If this does not change, Djokovic may well be winning Grand Slams into his 40s.