Tennis

Shapovalov falls in straight sets to Djokovic in Paris Masters final

A well-rested Denis Shapovalov put forth a competitive effort against Novak Djokovic but it wasn’t enough to deny the world No. 1 his fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday.

Canadian rises to 15th in world rankings with first Masters 1000 final appearance

Canada's Denis Shapovalov fell short in his bid for a first Masters 1000 title, losing 6-3, 6-4 to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Paris Masters final on Sunday. (Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images)

Denis Shapovalov's first appearance in a Masters 1000 final didn't end the way he wanted it to.

The Canadian was beaten by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday in the final of the Paris Masters.

The loss ends a solid week for Shapovalov, who will rise to a career-high No. 15 when the new rankings are released Monday. His previous career high was No. 20, and he came into the Paris Masters at No. 28.

Shapovalov defeated higher-ranked opponents in three straight matches to reach the semifinals of the tournament, including an upset over No. 6 Alexander Zverev in the round of 16. He advanced to Sunday's final when Rafael Nadal withdrew with an abdominal injury before their match on Saturday.

WATCH | Shapovalov take on Djokovic in the finals:

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic beats Canada's Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4 to claim his 5th Paris Masters title. 1:42

Djokovic, who won his fifth title at the Paris Masters, improved to 4-0 against Shapovalov. All four of those wins have come this season.

"He just places [his serve] well. It's tough to read," Shapovalov said of his opponent's most effective weapon against him Sunday. "He changes it up, has a good variety. He was really picking his spots today.

"So I had maybe one chance, but it was tough. I mean, he played solid."

The best things are yet to come to you.— Novak Djokovic to Canada's Denis Shapovalov after winning his fifth Paris Masters title 

The loss capped a solid week for the player from Richmond Hill, Ont., who will rise to a career-high No. 15 when the new rankings are released Monday. His previous career high was No. 20, and he came into the Paris Masters at No. 28.

Shapovalov defeated higher-ranked opponents in three straight matches to reach the semifinals of the tournament, including an upset over No. 6 Alexander Zverev in the round of 16. He advanced to Sunday's final when second-seeded Rafael Nadal withdrew with an abdominal strain before their match on Saturday.

WATCH | Shapovalov cruises into semifinals:

Richmond Hill's Denis Shapovalov is off to the Paris Masters semifinals after a convincing 6-2, 6-2 victory over Gael Monfils. 1:37

Early unforced errors

Djokovic, who won his fifth title at the Paris Masters, improved to 4-0 against Shapovalov. All four of those wins have come this season.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion offered up praise for Shapovalov during his on-court interview after the match.

"The best things are yet to come for you," Djokovic said, switching from French to English so Shapovalov could understand him.

Shapovalov entered the match with only one career title — a modest ATP 250-level tournament in Stockholm last month — and the big-serving left hander looked tense, making three unforced errors in his first service game and slipping quickly to 3-0 down against a composed Djokovic playing in his 50th Masters final and 111th overall.

After botching a return on Djokovic's opening serve of the seventh game he whacked his racket into the ground in frustration.

"Yeah, a little bit of a bad start but, no, I don't think it was any nerves," Shapovalov said. "I mean, I just think it was just a bit of a slow start, couple misses here and there."

Ties McEnroe on all-time wins list

Dropping only four points on his serve in the first set, Djokovic clinched it with another dominant serving game which included two aces and concluded with a volleyed forehand winner at the net.

Shapovalov was up against it right from the start of the second set, saving a break point with an ace. Unforced errors resurfaced in the seventh game and Djokovic ruthlessly punished him with a break for a 4-3 lead.

Djokovic saved his first break point of the match at 30-40 in the next game when Shapovalov returned a sliced serve well wide.

Sunday's victory gave Djokovic his 77th career ATP title, tying John McEnroe for fifth all-time. It was also his 34th Masters 1000 titles, one back of Nadal.

Shapovalov said it was "great to hear" Djokovic compliment him during the trophy presentation, but acknowledged he has work to do to improve his game.

"It's an unbelievable week for me, but it doesn't stop here," he said. "It's back to the court, back to practising.

"And I want to be beating guys like Novak so I have to improve, get better, find a way to return better against his serve. And hopefully I can do even better next year."

With files from The Associated Press

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