Paris – Novak Djokovic’s relentless desire for tennis perfection is pushing him to a consistently brilliant level, one which proved far too high for Andy Murray on Sunday.
The top-ranked Serb made light work of Murray in the Paris Masters final, beating the second-seeded Briton 6-2, 6-4 for his 10th title of an outstanding year that now includes a record six Masters titles and three Grand Slam wins.
With 10 titles in 2015, he is four ahead of Roger Federer. Djokovic now has won 26 Masters events altogether, two more than Federer and one behind leader Rafael Nadal.
“If you are going for the perfection, you might reach excellence,” the 10-time Grand Slam champion said after dispatching Murray in 1 hour, 33 minutes. “That’s the kind of mind set I have.”
The only major Djokovic didn’t win this year was the French Open, losing to Stan Wawrinka in the final, and it remains the only big trophy missing in his fast-growing collection of 58 career titles.
Chasing success at Roland Garros, and the quest to win all four Grand Slams in one year — he has won three in a year twice — means his motivation level will remain undiminished in 2016.
“I take nothing for granted. I try to work on that all the time, because I know that is the only way I’m managing to stay successful,” said the 28-year-old Djokovic after playing in his 14th straight tournament final this year. “I’m not trying to keep the status quo, because for me then that’s a regression.”
In winning his third straight Paris Masters title, Djokovic clinched a fourth overall — surpassing his own coach Boris Becker’s tally to set another record — but wondered how much further he could go.
“I think in terms of physical and mental ability, I have reached my peak,” said Djokovic, who has reached finals in all but one tournament this year.
Djokovic extended his winning streak to 22 matches, and will be the favorite to win the season-ending ATP finals for the fourth straight time when that tournament starts in London on Nov. 15.
“There is no reason for me to decrease the pace,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully I can finish off the season with another great win.”
Despite dropping only one set on the way to the final, the two-time Grand Slam champion Murray simply could not compete.
“It’s been an incredible year for him, well done,” Murray said. “I missed with my backhand a little bit today, left a few too many in the middle of the court and he was able to dictate a lot of the points from there.”
Serving for the match, Djokovic clenched his fist and yelled when Murray’s return landed out, giving him match point. When Murray’s aggressive two-handed backhand went wide, he turned and blew a kiss to Becker and other members of his team.
In their 30th career meeting, Djokovic improve to 21-9 against Murray, who beat the Serb in the 2013 Wimbledon final.
Since then, Djokovic has won 10 of their 11 encounters. His only loss during that spell was in August, when Murray beat him in the Rogers Cup final in Montreal.
“Since the beginning of last year my results against him and Roger (Federer) haven’t been good enough,” said Murray, who will attempt to lead Britain to the Davis Cup title against Belgium later this month. “I need to think about why that is and what I can do to turn it around.”
The second point of the match lasted 22 strokes, but Murray was rarely able to compete in the rallies after that.
Djokovic broke Murray at love in the third game, and the Briton had to save three break points in the fifth. Djokovic then held at love and broke again before serving out the set in 42 minutes.
Murray dropped his serve again to trail 2-1 in the second set but broke right back, only for Djokovic to get another break in the seventh game as he marched relentlessly toward another title.
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