For a 47th time Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will meet, this one for a spot in the Paris Masters final.
Despite battling a bit of the flu, Djokovic ran his win streak to 21 after coming from a set down to deny Marin Cilic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Djokovic now leads the Croat 16-2 in their series, but the Serb’s set streak of 30 came to an end.
“It was a big challenge. I was a break down in the third set. And really, this match could have gone either way,” Djokovic said. “I won the match, but if he would’ve won it, it would’ve been absolutely deserved.”
Cilic was able to secure his spot in the London field of eight after Federer later beat Nishikori 6-4, 6-4.
“I think for me it was really important to go through two sets and not get broken and play very consistently and solid and not make too many wild shots on my own service games,” Federer said. “Kei is one of the best returners in the game and if you allow him to come into your service games too frequently, he’s going to really hurt you. I think I was able to avoid that and then winning straight sets is always nice. It saves energy for not only what is to come tomorrow or the following week, but for your career.”
And of course the win for Federer set up the showdown with Djokovic. But Djokovic leads 24-22 winning the last three including this summer in Cincinnati.
Federer’s last win over Djokovic came three years ago at the 2015 ATP Finals.
“I want to play well. I want to try to win, obviously. I know he’s on a hot streak so I think it’s going to be tough. But nevertheless I think I’ve got nothing to lose,” Federer said of the semifinal. “I also like this type of surface, I like playing indoors. Indoors has treated me very well, winning Rotterdam and Basel. I think I’m ready to do something tomorrow, but clearly I have to play a lot of good tennis tomorrow because those are the question Novak asks of you. It’s not just maybe a serve here or there or a return here or there, he’s going to ask the question time and time again because he defends very well and he plays well on the offence and plus he’s serving consistently well at the moment so I think it’s going to be tough.”
Djokovic will try to win his 25th match against Federer. No one has beaten the Swiss more in his career than Novak.
“I’m just pleased to be in the semis,” Djokovic said. “I know I can play better. At times tonight I was playing really well. At times, not that great. So there are things that I have to obviously improve for the next one, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Alexander Zverev’s Paris campaign fell apart swiftly at the start of the day as he was blown out by fellow youngster Karen Khachanov 6-1, 6-2. Zverev has played a lot of tennis this year and a with an ailing shoulder, he had nothing to offer the powerful Russian who advanced to his second Masters semifinal after Canada.
“I’m just enjoying playing good tennis right now,” said Khachanov. “Especially the past couple of month. After winning Moscow, honestly, in Vienna it was tough for me to play emotionally. I’m playing confidently and playing good tennis right now.”
In his semifinal, Khachanov will face Dominic Thiem who eliminated defending champion Jack Sock 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
The 26th-ranked Sock will drop outside of the Top 100 on Monday, down to No. 105. Sock returns tomorrow in the doubles semifinals with Mike Bryan.
Thiem, who won St. Petersburg in September, has been victorious in 11 of his last 13 matches. The Austrian has never played the 22-year-old Russian.
SATURDAY PARIS INDOOR SCHEDULE
Court Central 11:45 Am
1 Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic v Marcel Granoller/sRajeev Ram
Not Before 2:00 Pm
6 Dominic Thiem v Karen Khachanov
Not Before 4:30 Pm
3 Roger Federer v 2 Novak Djokovic
Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau v 2 Mike Bryan/Jack Sock
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