Novak Djokovic continued his recent dominance of Roger Federer with a hard-fought 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-6 (3) victory in the semifinals of the Rolex Paris Masters on Saturday.
It was the 47th meeting between the two, with Djokovic now leading the head-to-head series 25-22. Djokovic also won their previous meeting in Cincinnati in August, and Federer hasn’t beaten his Serbian rival since 2015.
Djokovic has been hot recently, winning 22 straight matches and qualifying for his fourth consecutive final.
The first set of the three-hour, three-minute match lasted 71 minutes itself, with Djokovic winning in a tiebreak when a Federer backhand went wide.
When winning the opening set, Djokovic now has an 18-1 record against Federer.
The Swiss took the second set, however, when he broke Djokovic’s serve late in the set, to force a third set.
Djokovic will meet Karen Khachanov for the title on Sunday. The Russian needed just 71 minutes on Saturday to defeat No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-4, 6-1 to earn his way into his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.
Coming into the week, Khachanov had a 3-16 record against players ranked in the world Top 10. This week, however, he equaled that total, beating No. 9 John Isner, No. 5 Alexander Zverev and No. 8 Thiem.
“What I’m happy about is that each match I think I was increasing the level. That shows that I’m improving in my consistency, I’m becoming a better player, playing from the beginning of the tournament better and better, so that’s a good thing,” Khachanov said after the match. “In this match I think it was really intense the first couple of games and then at 4-4 when it more pressure was coming, I could break him, and then I took the lead.”
Khachanov has also won two ATP World Tour titles in 2018 with victories at the Open 13 Provence and the VTB Kremlin Cup.
“I think especially the second part of the year I’m playing really my best tennis. I’m having the best season, so far,” Khachanov said. “I’m confident and I’m in the final, so I’m really happy about it.”
It was the first FedEx ATP head-to-head meeting between Khachanov and Thiem, two of the biggest hitters on the ATP World Tour. But throughout the match, it was Khachanov who controlled the baseline, landing his heavy groundstrokes deep in the court to push the Austrian back and control the baseline. The Russian also did well to use angles to force Thiem to go for low-percentage shots from awkward positions.
That showed in the statistics, as Khachanov broke Thiem in his final five service games of the match. Entering the week, Thiem was eighth on the ATP World Tour in service games won on hard courts in 2018, claiming 87.9 per cent of those games according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats.
“He played a great match for sure. Put me under big pressure from the first ball, actually,” Thiem said. “I have to give all the credit to Karen. He was serving well and returning well, and didn’t let me really get into the rally. That’s what I would have needed, so he was making everything right today.