Paris | Djokovic wins the blockbuster
The blockbuster which everyone was waiting for at the Paris Masters, brought Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer together to contest a place in the final of the last Masters of the season.
It was also expected, because 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. Novak Djokovic
An epic encounter was expected, and the two rivals rose to the occasion with the Serb ending up victorious after three hours and two-minutes of a hard-fought contest, 7-6(6) 5-7 7-6(3).
Djokovic never broke serve in the match despite raising 12 chances but in the final set breaker he proved to be the steadier player as Federer allowed a series of errors to creep into his game, including a double fault to hand the current word No.2 the advantage.
“We had epic matches throughout our rivalry but this one definitely ranks as one of the best matches we played,” Djokovic admitted later.
Djokovic, who now holds a 25/22 career win/loss advantage over his rival, added: “High quality tennis. Next to the match I played against Nadal in the semis of Wimbledon, this was definitely the most exciting match I was playing this year, and probably the best quality tennis match that I was part of.
“It was also expected, because 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.”
But it wasn’t all Djokovic as Federer defended and attacked just as well. In fact Djokovic on several occasions allowed his frustrations to get the better of him, like smashing a racket – the second he has smashed in two consecutive matches – when things weren’t going his way. There are still signs of vulnerability and his cloak of invincibility isn’t as secure as he had hoped!
Federer, who was making his first appearance at an event in Paris in three years, came up just short for a chance at claiming his 100th career title, and now can no longer finish the season No. 1.
“It’s intense. It’s good tennis. We care about winning. We don’t like losing. So I can tell you that right now,” a serious looking Federer said. “Losing is never fun, so that’s why I guess I have this face right now.”
The 37-year-old Swiss icon acknowledged his arch-rival is “on a roll” but insisted he is happy about his mental and physical shape. “I think the level was good from my side. Clearly, I have some regrets. When you lose a close match like this you always have. Wherever they are in the match,” Federer added.
“But, overall, it was a good tournament. I can look back and think it was definitely worth it to come to Paris. The welcome was great. I played some good tennis, so I can be happy.
“Novak is obviously on a roll. You can feel it. He protects his serve very well. I think I did the same as well. And at the end, it came down to a few things here and there.”Djokovic will face the surprising first-time Masters finalist Karen Khachanov who continued his giant-killing run by cruising past Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-1.
Djokovic, who won his only meeting with the youngster in straight sets at Wimbledon, is bidding for his fifth Paris title, 33rd overall Masters, 73rd of his career and fifth of 2018 while the 22-year-old Khachanov is seeking his biggest title and third of his career.