Paris | Djokovic clears Rune hurdle to remain on track.

The quarter final clash between Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune, the six-time champion versus the current title holder, proved to be Friday’s match of the day at the Rolex Paris Masters, the last of this season’s ATP 1000 level events.

He has been playing much better in the past few weeks since working with Boris. It was strange seeing Boris in the opposing box. I wish Holger and him all the best. Novak Djokovic

Last year Rune, at 19-years of age, pulled off a surprise win over the Serb and while he has improved over the last year, the 36-year-old more experienced Serb, exacted his revenge over the Dane, underlining his status as the current World No.1 to record a 7-5 6-7(3) 6-4 victory and take his place in the last four.

It became evident from the start that it would be a tight affair but Djokovic edged ahead to claim the opener and while he looked set to finish the match off in straight sets, he played a poor tiebreaker allowing Rune to level but the reigning champion was broken the third game of the decider and, after nearly three hours of high level play, had to concede to the resilient former champion who served consistently throughout.

Djokovic lost just three points on serve in the third, striking 10 aces during the contest in which he was broken only once but captured the Dane’s three times.

“It was quite a similar match to last year’s final, it was anybody’s game in every set.” Djokovic pointed out after the match, his 16th consecutive win since losing the Wimbledon final. “I played an awful tie-break in the second set, probably the worst one this year. But again, credit to him for staying mentally tough and playing solid. We have similar games. Move well, defend well and (are) all-round players.

“He has been playing much better in the past few weeks since working with Boris (Becker, his former coach),” he added. “It was strange seeing Boris in the opposing box. I wish Holger and him all the best.”

Despite the loss, Rune qualified for the Turin eight-man field as a result of Hubert Hurkacz’s 6-1 4-6 6-4 defeat by the unseeded Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian’s fourth win over the Pole in four encounters.

Grigor Dimitrov the only unseeded player in the last four

(Photo by Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

“He’s such a complex player,” Dimitrov said of the 11th seed who was ready to overtake Rune in the Race to Turin. “I think people see him only as serving big and kind of very crafty and all that, but I think he’s an extremely dangerous player.

“I think his game also, like, how can I say, that kind of keeps me alive throughout the whole time, because I like that type of a game when someone is attacking me, when they have big serve and stuff like that. Today was also very difficult. I mean, there were like five games I was just a stop sign. I just didn’t know which way to go, what to do, how to return.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas records his 300th win on the Tour

(Photo by Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Dimitrov will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas who knocked out the 2018 champion Karen Khachanov 6-3 6-4 for his 300th victory on the professional tour.

Russia however, will still be represented in the semi-finals by Andrey Rublev who took just over two hours to progress past Australia’s Alex de Minaur 4-6 6-3 6-1 in the last match of the day after watching Djokovic’s win and knowing he will be facing the Serb next having only beaten him once in five meetings.

Andrey Rublev is the last Russian left in the draw

(Photo by Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)



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