Can Dimitrov Deny Djokovic To Snap Six-Year Title Wait In Paris?
Grigor Dimitrov has the chance to end a rock-solid year in spectacular fashion at the Rolex Paris Masters.
The Bulgarian has been the model of consistency in 2023, racking up a 41-20 record and reaching one tour-level championship match and four other semi-finals. Although the 32-year-old Dimitrov’s wait for his ninth ATP Tour title has now gone on for nearly six years, he is determined to be proactive in trying to change that in Paris-Bercy as he takes on Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final at the ATP Masters 1000. (Watch live from 3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET)
“I think for me where I’m at right now, things in a way, they’re going my way, but also I’m looking for them as well,” said Dimitrov after he overcame Stefanos Tsitsipas in Saturday’s semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event. “I’m not waiting for my opponent to do something with it or I’m not waiting for them to miss.
“I want to win or lose on my own terms… I can control my attitude, and I don’t want to feel sorry for myself for the past years. I don’t want to feel like I have missed opportunities. Have I? Yeah, of course, too many, if you ask me. Have I made mistakes? Yes, too many.
“There comes a point where it’s like, okay, I’m accepting all that had been thrown at me, what I had to face, and I continue. I get to have another chance. So when you get that chance, try to use it. So I’m trying to give myself a chance.”
Djokovic enters Sunday’s match on a 17-match winning streak and with an 11-1 Lexus ATP Head2Head lead against Dimitrov. Two of those victories came in Paris-Bercy (2016, 2019), where the Serbian is chasing a record-extending seventh title and his sixth tour-level crown of 2023. The 36-year-old has been tested this week in France, however, both by his opponents and a stomach virus that has left him feeling under the weather.
“[I have been] going through quite a difficult stomach virus that really made me feel terrible the past three days, but somehow [managed] to find strength, find energy under the adrenaline rush of playing a match,” said Djokovic, who battled past Tallon Griekspoor, Holger Rune and Andrey Rublev all in three sets to book his spot in the final. “Not giving up, fighting and believing that I can come back, which happened again and hopefully it can happen tomorrow.”
Djokovic would become the first player to win 40 Masters 1000 titles by extending his winning streak against Dimitrov to 10 on Sunday afternoon in Paris, where he tasted defeat in the 2022 final against Rune. It would also increase his Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin lead over Carlos Alcaraz to 1490 points and make it highly likely he will claim the ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honour for the a record-extending eighth time.
Beating Djokovic in Bercy therefore represents a daunting task for Dimitrov, who lifted his sole Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati in 2017, the same year as his Nitto ATP Finals triumph. He has already upsets seeded opponents Daniil Medvedev, Hubert Hurkacz and Tsitsipas this week, however, and the Bulgarian may feel he has little to lose as he looks for his eighth, and arguably most important, Top 10 win of the year.
“It means a lot to me for so many different reasons,” said Dimitrov of his Paris run. “I don’t take this very lightly… I appreciate it a lot because I know how difficult it has been for me, certain tournaments and months throughout the year. So I guess this came at the right time.
“I don’t know what to say. I think getting to this final means a lot more to me than some, I think even some moments, some big moments in my career. Right now I’m just staying in the moment. I have one more match to play. I’m going to give it all. What’s going to happen, I don’t know. But I’d say this week means, from a very different perspective, a lot.”