Four-time victor Novak Djokovic edged Swiss veteran Roger Federer in full sets in a spotlight semifinal duel to set up his encounter against unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov at the ATP Paris Masters here on Saturday. "I came here to Paris with no expectations and figuring that I'd just play a match or two, thinking I'd probably lose because I was too exhausted after Basel".
Earning his fourth straight win over a top-10 player this week, Khachanov, whose muscular game resembles that of his childhood hero Marat Safin, a Russian three-times victor in Paris, picked up the biggest title of his burgeoning career.
Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his semi final match against Switzerland's Roger Federer. Federer saved a break point with a volley when serving for the set at 5-4.
The Japanese consequently appeared to lose all composure, gifting Federer another break at the start of the second.
'I want to talk about how well he played all week.
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The Russian number two now has 15 match wins at this level this year, including a trip to the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto. "I'm just happy that match by match I'm just increasing the level of the game", he added.
The 22-year-old came into the showpiece as the underdog, but impressed with a confident all-court performance, which belied his relative inexperience, to beat the four-time champion 7-5 6-4.
Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic, 31, will still overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the world rankings on Monday.
'To finish my season like this is a dream, ' Khachanov told the crowd in the AccorHotels Arena, after taking the biggest title of his career.
A rasping serve down the tee sealed the set for the 22-year-old, with Djokovic looking flat and in need of inspiration.
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"I think both of us were far from our best, but we fought with what we had and at the end I think I maybe served a bit better in the important moments than Fabio did", said Federer who was playing his first match of the week after second round opponent Milos Raonic withdrew on Wednesday.
"I need to keep on working with my team and to improve day by day and to compete with guys like Novak at the biggest tournaments more consistently".
"I told him my shoulder is hurting and that his uncle, or something, that he's going a bit insane", he said.
It was the 4th successive win for Djokovic over Federer, and the Serb will play against Russia's Karen Khachanov.
He had won his previous three finals, and said his 100 percent record helped him when he stepped on court against the 14-time Grand Slam champion.
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