Sports

Novak Djokovic sets up Paris Masters semi-final against Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic sets up Paris Masters semi-final against Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic ruined Roger Federer's ambitions of a 100th career title as he outlasted his great adversary 7-6 (6) 5-7 7-6 (3) in an epic Paris Masters semi-final that stretched his remarkable unbeaten run to 22 matches on Saturday. He really struggled during those big Masters 1000 events in the United States of America in March, both physically and tactically, but things certainly looked much better in Rome where he won four titles in the last, reaching the semi-final where he battled with Rafael Nadal for two hours and gaining a huge boost before the rest of the season.

Djokovic watched four break points, one of which Federer saved with a magnificent reflex volley, go by as he led 4-3 in the opening set, before saving a set point on his serve in the tie-break. "So as I said, I can't be too ecstatic about it".

The 31-year-old - now unbeaten in 22 matches - is a four-time victor of the Paris Masters. "It was the worst day of my career for returning".

When in more peril at break point down at 3-3, Djokovic delivered an incredible game-saving backhand at full stretch, which perhaps helped break Cilic's spirit as he squandered the next game before succumbing in two hours 11 minutes.

"It was one of my best matches, and what I'm happy about is that I was increasing my level, which shows that I'm becoming a better player", Khachanov, who reached his first Masters 1000 final said.

With the game approaching the 10-minute mark, Federer, who had already fended off three break points, gave Djokovic a fourth chance with a wild forehand.

After being broken to go 2-1 down in the final set, Djokovic smashed his racquet, accepted the code violation and fumed in his seat before immediately breaking back.

Djokovic broke his racket in frustration and then broke Cilic straight back, after which the momentum shifted back in his favor as Cilic lost to him for the 16th time in 18 meetings.

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"I'm still struggling. It's kind of a flu".

Federer has only once beaten Djokovic when losing the first set so the opener already had a feel of importance before the match begun.

Djokovic now has a 30-1 record since the start of Wimbledon with his only loss in that time coming against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round of the Toronto Masters in August.

Djokovic reeled off six successive points to bring up five match points, clinching victory at the third attempt when Federer picked out the net to end a tense concluding rally. "I mean, I'm looking forward to play finals tomorrow", said the 18th-ranked Khachanov.

The sixth-seeded Thiem next faces unseeded Karen Khachanov of Russian Federation in their first career meeting.

Zverev had treatment on his right shoulder late in the first set and made a string of unforced errors. Zverev spoke to his opponent at the end of the first set about comments coming from his box.

"I told him my shoulder is hurting and that his uncle, or something, that he's going a bit insane", Zverev said.

Federer, meanwhile, will hope to take his promising display against Djokovic into the ATP Finals in London in two weeks' time.


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