Andy Murray knows he must do better against his biggest rivals after a 10th defeat in 11 matches to Novak Djokovic in the Paris Masters final.
A 6-2 6-4 victory for the world No 1 gave him his third successive trophy in Paris and the 10th title of a season that just continues to get better.
Murray ended a run of eight consecutive losses to Djokovic in Montreal this summer but was comprehensively beaten in the semi-finals in Shanghai last month and it was a similar story here.
His record against Djokovic now stands at nine wins from 30 meetings, while he has lost his last five clashes against Roger Federer.
The Scot told reporters in Paris: “Since the beginning of last year, my results against him (Djokovic) and Roger, from my perspective, haven’t been good enough.
“Those two are two of the greatest players of all time, so there is no disgrace in losing to them. But I do feel like I need to start doing better in those match-ups, because the scoreline in the last couple of matches there hasn’t been good.”
Djokovic was playing in his 14th consecutive final – a record for a single season – and now has 22 straight wins, having not lost since the final in Cincinnati in August.
Djokovic did not even drop a set in winning titles in Beijing and Shanghai, and it was not until Saturday’s semi-final in Paris that Stan Wawrinka finally broke that streak. But the Serbian responded by winning the deciding set to love and was in similarly ruthless form in the opening set against Murray.
The world No 2 tried to take the challenge to his opponent but too often he could not land the final shot.
When Djokovic forged ahead again in the third game of the second set, Murray was in huge trouble, but for once the champion’s level slipped from stratospheric and he was pegged back.
At 3-2 and 0-30 on the Djokovic serve, there was a glimmer of hope for Murray, but he could not take advantage and soon found himself a game away from another defeat.
He forced Djokovic to serve it out but the 28-year-old is well accustomed to such demands and clinched victory when Murray hooked a return wide.
Djokovic said: “I think I was very solid from the very first point, very similar to my performance against him in Shanghai in terms of intensity and strength in the shots and really protecting the baseline, trying to be the one that dictates the play.
“There were a couple of games in the second set where he started turning things around, broke back and was leading 3-2, 0-30, and just barely missed one forehand return. So things could have gone a different way like they did yesterday against Wawrinka at the same stage. But I managed to stay tough and after that point I felt that I had a good chance to finish off the match in straight sets.”