Tennis news - Djokovic beats Federer to reach Paris final, extends winning run to 22 matches
Novak Djokovic ruined Roger Federer's ambitions of a 100th career title as he outlasted his great adversary 7-6(6) 5-7 7-6(3) in an epic Paris Masters semi-final that stretched his remarkable unbeaten run to 22 matches on Saturday.
In a 47th meeting between the two greats, the stubborn Djokovic simply refused to be beaten as he eked out a fourth successive victory over Federer in a tiebreak decider after three compelling hours.
It gave the Serbian the opportunity to mark his return to world number one on Monday by winning a record-extending fifth Paris title in Sunday's final against Russian Karen Khachanov, who earlier crushed Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-1.
Djokovic, who had complained of competing with flu-like symptoms in his previous matches this week, looked proud and relieved to repel a wonderful challenge from Federer, who appeared close to his imperious best.
Yet even though his serve was not broken once, it was still not enough for the 37-year-old Swiss, whose nerve failed him in an anti-climactic final tiebreak in which he served a double fault and made two more careless groundstroke errors.
Federer was seeking to become only the second man after Jimmy Connors to win a century of professional tour titles following his 99th win in Basel but fell agonisingly short.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion lost the first set despite having held set point in the tie-break and had Djokovic in trouble in the final set when the Serb received a code violation at 4-4 for chucking his racket away in disgust after the Swiss had saved two break points.
It was the first time in their 12 years of battling that Djokovic had won four matches in succession against Federer, equalling the run that the Swiss himself had once achieved at the dawn of their rivalry.