Mon, Nov 05, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Djokovic edges Federer in Paris Masters thriller

AFP, PARIS

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns to Switzerland’s Roger Federer in their Paris Masters men’s singles semi-final at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer on Saturday in a Paris Masters semi-final that he described as “one of the best matches” between the long-time rivals, extending his winning run to 22 outings.

The Serb, who would replace Rafael Nadal as world No. 1 today, outlasted Federer in just over three hours to prevail 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 7-6 (7/3). He was to meet Russia’s Karen Khachanov in yesterday’s final as he looked to pull level with Nadal on 33 career Masters titles.

Djokovic has won his last four meetings with Federer and leads the Swiss 25-22 overall, having not lost to the 20-time Grand Slam champion since 2015.

“We’ve had epic matches throughout our rivalry, but this one definitely ranks as one of the best matches we’ve played,” said Djokovic, who is aiming to clinch a fourth title in a row after wins at Cincinnati, the US Open and Shanghai.

“When I get to play Roger, I know I have to get the best out of myself in order to win — and that’s why our rivalries and matches are so special,” he added.

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 tiebreak.

A Federer backhand drifted wide to hand Djokovic the lead, although two more break points passed the Serb by in the first game of the second set with the Swiss on the ropes.

The missed opportunity proved costly when Federer conjured up just a second break point of the contest at 6-5, converting in style as he gambled on Djokovic going cross-court before batting a winner down the line to force a decider.

Federer fended off two more break points to open the third set as Djokovic hit the deck when his ankle appeared to catch on the surface.

The Serb threw his racket down in frustration as Federer again escaped from 15-40 down to move 5-4 ahead, but the Swiss star’s magic fizzled out as the final set headed to a tiebreak.

Djokovic rattled 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.

“Novak is obviously on a roll. You can feel it. At the end it came down to a few things here and there,” Federer said. “But overall, I’m happy with my game. It’s better than last week in Basel... I’m looking forward to a rest now and a good preparation for London [ATP Finals].”

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