The joys of victory and the heartache of losing a final were on show at the conclusion of the Rolex Paris Masters. While Novak Djokovic's face was beaming, Grigor Dimitrov's eyes were red from crying in his towel. He wanted this badly after the ups and downs he has been through with his career in recent times but as a confirmation that he is back with the best.
In one hour 38 minutes Djokovic claimed victory 6-4, 6-3, breaking serve once in the first set and twice in the second set, the second time as Dimitrov served to stay in the final.
It was a slightly tentative start to the final, especially from Djokovic who struggled in his first two service games but when he broke the Dimitrov serve in the seventh game of the first set, one got the sense he had started his move. That line of thinking proved to be so right as the Bulgarian did not have quite enough pop on his serve and his normally beautiful single-handed backhand was not quite there.
"It was a very challenging week. I think also off the court, you know, dealing with the stomach virus that really took a lot of energy out of me, but somehow, yeah, I managed to, I guess, find this extra energy when it was most needed, particularly in the days of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, where I was probably closer to losing these matches than winning," Djokovic said. "So, considering what happened in the last six, seven days, this win is definitely one of the most special wins in the Masters 1000 category."
This marked the seventh time that Djokovic had won the Rolex Paris masters from nine finals. It is his 40th ATP Masters 1000 title and it is his 97th career title, only Jimmy Connors (109) and Roger Federer (103) are ahead of him.
"I try to be a good student of the game and keep track with the numbers, but at the same time, you know, I also want to be able to just direct my attention to the next challenge, you know," Djokovic said. "As long as I'm an active player, I guess that's going to be kind of the mentality I will nurture.
"It's great, but it's already behind me. I'm very of course proud of the achievement but I'm already turning the next page. This is, fortunately or unfortunately, the way it works for me, and the way I think is the correct, so to say, mentality moving forward. Because while I'm still active, I still want to win more and I still want to play at the highest level. Obviously Grand Slams and Masters events are the most valuable tournaments in our sport.
"So, considering, as I said, the circumstances I had in the last seven days, you know, this win has more weight and more value and it's extra sweeter, so to say, particularly at this stage of my career. I don't even know in which stages of my career I am anymore, but I think that every win on a big tournament maybe the value is double nowadays."
That was Djokovic's 18th consecutive win and his 31st from 32 matches since the start of the French Open in May. The only match he lost was the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz. This is the second time he has won the Paris double - Roland Garros and Paris Bercy in the same year. Andre Agassi is the only other player to achieve that.
This is the third event where he has won seven or more titles, the others are the Australian Open (10) and Wimbledon (7).
Dimitrov has to be proud of his effort, not just in Paris but over recent months which includes the Asian swing and in particular the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Maybe some of the tension and pressure got to him at the end but for sure it's great to see him playing the type of tennis he is capable of and there is confidence back in his game.
"It's difficult to explain emotions, I think. You want it. You know, it's tough when it doesn't happen. Only I know, in a way, without, like, feeling sorry for myself, what I've gone through the past months on and off the court," Dimitrov said.
"Those are happy tears. I don't want to have them as something negative. I'm human, after all. At the end of the day, I think just the buildup not only of the last two weeks, the last months of hard work and the big trip in China, everything has been kind of, in a way, snowballing like day after day, match after match.
"Of course, in the end I was so close to making something that I wanted to do for such a long time. I don't want to have this as a goal is just to win the tournament, but it was just more of my mental and physical way that I was dealing with and through these past months.
"Yeah, I mean, I'm not ashamed of them. It just happened. I'm sad. Of course I'm sad that I lost. It's never fun when you lose in a final. I think for me now I have some time to reflect and move on."
The doubles title went to Edouard Roger Vasselin and Santiago Gonzalez who defeated Rohan Bopanna and Matt Ebden 6-2, 5-7, 10/7.