Novak Djokovic edged Swiss veteran Roger Federer in full sets in a spotlight semifinal duel to set up his encounter against unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov at the ATP Paris Masters here.
In their 47th career head-to-head on Saturday, the Serbian moved to one win away from his fifth title at the tournament after triumphing 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-6 (3) in over three hours to improve the record to 25-22, Xinhua reported.
“We had epic matches throughout our rivalry but this one definitely ranks as one of the best matches we played,” Djokovic told a news conference.
“When I get to play Roger, I know I have to get the best out of myself in order to win. That’s why our rivalries and matches are so special,” he added.
Following current world number 1 Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal, it has undoubtedly become the most highly-anticipated clash at the tournament. In the full-capacity Bercy Arena, the two superstars didn’t let crowds down as their encounter went in a dramatic manner with two sets forced into tie-breaks.
The opening set saw no break en route to the tie-break, where Djokovic saved a set point with three consecutive points for an 8-6 win.
The following set was underway in a much similar path, as both players did quite well on their serves, before Federer registered the only break throughout the match in the 12th game to force a decider at 7-5.
In the decider, Djokovic surrendered a glorious chance of breaking in the ninth game, only to see his 40-15 advantage slip away. The to-be world number 1 threw his racket onto the court in frustration.
After the duel recorded another tie-break, Djokovic took the initiative at 6-1. Federer displayed his persistence by saving two match points, but still lost 7-3.