David Ferrer secured his seventh title of 2012—and the biggest of his career—as he defeated Jerzy Janowicz, 6-4, 6-3 to win the Paris Masters.
A Masters title was clearly long overdue for Ferrer, and while the stars had to align to some extent, he faced an unknown quality in Janowicz, a qualifier with nothing to lose. While Ferrer must have been feeling the tangible weight of expectation—he made a few unusual unforced errors—he played a typically focused and intelligent match in which his excellent returning blunted one of his opponent’s biggest weapons.
Janowicz opened with a double fault, but quickly found his rhythm, and it was Ferrer who was first under serious pressure on serve. With Ferrer serving at 4-4, Janowicz’s effective if ungainly movement at the back of the court started to get going, and his groundstrokes really started firing, showcasing his ability to inject both pace and angle seemingly at will. At 30-30, Ferrer slammed a more than makeable short ball into the net to give up the first break point, only for Janowicz to return the favor, squandering a fine return with a forehand error. Two more forehand errors saw Ferrer hold and put the pressure firmly on Janowicz at 4-5.
The flip side of Janowicz’s lively, thrilling shotmaking is that he sometimes throws points away with bizarre choices, and at 15-0—serving to stay in the set—an odd forehand slice from behind the baseline landed well wide, getting him in trouble he couldn’t quite escape from. Saving one set point with an ace after a judicious challenge from Ferrer, Janowicz promptly double-faulted to give up a second. Ferrer’s tenacious defence and relentless pressure elicited a groundstroke error. For the second time in as many days, Ferrer had broken for a set in which he had been the player under greater pressure.
As the second set began, Ferrer began to return more effectively and do a better job at finding width on his shots, keeping Janowicz on the move. He also picked up Janowicz’s somewhat over-used drop shots more easily; my highly unofficial count concluded that the Pole played twice as many unsuccessful drop shots as point-winning ones. Once again, however, Janowicz provided the unexpected, fighting back from 0-30 at 0-1, then breaking Ferrer—with the aid of a very well-timed Hawkeye challenge—to take a 2-1 lead. Twice Janowicz had points to consolidate the break, then when he failed to do so, played some casually great tennis to earn two break points in Ferrer’s next service game. But again, Ferrer’s tenacity and rock-solid mentality came into play, as he saved the first with an ace and held with another.
Whether nerves, mental fatigue or simply the drawbacks of his high-octane game were responsible, Janowicz’s ability to close out points deserted him, and he double-faulted the crucial break away to fall behind 2-4. Two service holds away from the biggest victory of his career, Ferrer rose to the occasion superbly, dropping not a point on serve before closing out the match with one final service winner.