Djokovic edges Federer in classic three-setter in Paris

Florence Fletcher
November 5, 2018

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 semifinal that stretched his remarkable unbeaten run to 22 matches on Saturday.

Federer has won this tournament only once, back in 2011, and has not played here since 2015.

Asked again whether it was also a case of emotional and mental fatigue, after such an intense tussle with Federer, Djokovic repeated his praise for Khachanov.

Djokovic briefly let his volatile temper get the better of him, though, when he had Federer at 15-40 down in the ninth game of the deciding set.

Federer's down the T serve was returned well by Djokovic straight in the middle and the Swiss ace took his time before whipping it to Djokovic's right to what looked like a sure victor.

"Hasn't happened too many times that I don't break a serve of anyone, especially if I have 12 break points", Djokovic said.

"What I'm happy about is that each match I think I was increasing the level".

"When I get to play Roger, I know I have to get the best out of myself in order to win".

"I'm satisfied of course and I'm going to be No. 1 tomorrow".

"To finish my season like this is a dream", Khachanov told the crowd in the Bercy arena, explaining how Djokovic had always been an inspiration to him.

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Unai Emery's side fell behind to James Milner's clinical finish after Bernd Leno pushed out Sadio Mane's cross in the 61st minute. Puel's team, now 12th in the Premier League , are without a victory in their last three games. "We were defensively terrible ".

Rather than focus on his first defeat since losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Rogers Cup back in August, Djokovic chose to highlight the performance of his conqueror.

The Austrian served out the match and clinched victory on his first match point when Sock hit a big forehand long.

"I'm in the semifinals of a Masters 1000 only for the fourth time", Thiem said.

It was a hugely disappointing day for 25-year-old Thiem, who had reached the French Open final in Paris in June but who is still searching for the first Masters title his talent merits. "It means a lot for me because I didn't do too well in the previous years in this part of the season".

Federer faced two break points in the opening game of the second set as Djokovic threatened to take control, but matters stayed on serve until a few minutes of uncharacteristic sloppiness from the Serb gave Federer a chance to level, which he took with a fizzing forehand victor.

Zverev had treatment on his right shoulder late in the first set and made a string of unforced errors.

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

"I just feel it is a little bit different this year".

The only consolation for Cilic was booking a place in the ATP Finals in London later this month courtesy of Nishikori's loss.

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