Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battled for more than three hours in the semifinals of the Rolex Paris Masters on Saturday and it was Djokovic who survived with a 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-6 (3) victory.
From start to finish the two players held tightly to their serve, with just one break in 36 service games—that one went to Federer in the very last game of the second set—getting to 15-40 on the Djokovic serve and then blasting a forehand down the line winner to even the match at one set apiece.
But Djokovic was just too solid in the tie-breaks, rallying from 2-0 and 4-2 down—and even fighting off a set point down 6-5—to win the first set tie-break, and then cruising through the third set tie-break, originally opening up a 6-1 lead and sealing the three-hour, two-minute victory three points later.
It was the third time in 47 meetings that Djokovic and Federer went to a deciding set tie-break, and Djokovic has won all three. The Serb now leads the Swiss in their overall head-to-head series, 25-22.
“I think it would be deserved if he won the match as well,” Djokovic said after the match.
“We went toe to toe until the last shot. It was really, really, the most spectacular match I’ve been a part of this year, and definitely one of the best matches I’ve ever played against him in my career.”
Djokovic finished the match with a -1 differential of winners to unforced errors, 31 to 32, while Federer actually finished with a positive differential of +2, 54 to 52 (but he was -16 on his backhand, 11 to 27).
“I think the level was good from my side,” Federer said. “I have some regrets—when you lose a close match like this, you always have regrets—but overall it was a good tournament. I can look back and definitely think it was worth it to come to Paris. I played some good tennis, so I can be happy.
“I’m happy with my game. It’s better than last week in Basel - and there I won the tournament, here I played into the semis and it took someone of Novak’s caliber to beat me, so that’s all right.
“I’m looking forward to a rest now, and good preparation for London.”
Roger Federer post-match press conference:
And what about Djokovic’s form? “Novak is obviously on a roll—you can feel it,” Federer said.
Djokovic has now won 22 matches in a row and one more win would not only bring him a fifth career title at the Rolex Paris Masters (he already won here in 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015), it would also bring him a 33rd career Masters 1000 title, which would tie him with Rafael Nadal for the record.
Awaiting the No. 2-seeded Djokovic in the final will be an unseeded Karen Khachanov, who upset No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem in the other semifinal, 6-4 6-1. The Russian—who is now into his first Masters 1000 final - had upset No. 8 seed John Isner and No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev earlier in the week.
Djokovic won the pair’s only previous meeting in the fourth round of Wimbledon this year, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
“He’s absolutely not to be underestimated,” Djokovic said of Khachanov. “On the contrary. He’s been playing some phenomenal tennis this week. He’s won all of his matches except one in straight sets and he’s striking the ball beautifully. We’ll see—I’ll just try to recover and get the best out of myself.”
This Week on Tennis Channel PLUS:
ATP Paris (Mon - Sun 10.29 - 11.4)
- Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic headline the ATP Rolex Paris Masters. Watch live coverage from three courts on Tennis Channel PLUS beginning Monday 10/29 at 6:00 AM EST.
WTA Zhuhai (Mon - Sun 10.29 - 11.4)
- Tennis Channel PLUS has live action of Zhuhai starting Tuesday 10/30 at 12:30 AM EST
USTA Tyler (Tue - Sun 10.30 - 11.4)
-Tennis Channel PLUS features live competition and on-demand coverage of every WTA match from USTA Tyler beginning Tuesday 10/30 11:00 AM EST