Novak Djokovic won his eighth consecutive match against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday at the Paris Masters.
He is now unbeaten in his last 13 matches on both the ATP Tour and at the Paris Masters but he was made to grind for the result.
The 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4) victory was achieves as the Serbian won the final four points of the match having fallen behind by a mini-break in the decisive tie-break.
Djokovic couldn’t convert two late break points at 4-4, 15/40, and instead needed a dramatic comeback of his own despite making a blistering start to the contest in the opening set.
“It’s very sweet, obviously, when you win matches like this against one of the best players in the world,” Djokovic said after the victory.
“I thought I started the match very well, again, great hitting like yesterday in the quarters. I had chances early on in the second [twice at 30/30], I didn’t break his serve. The momentum shifted, the crowd got into it. I think he elevated his level of tennis.
“Deservedly so, we went into — both of us — into an even battle all the way until the last point, until the last shot. Some incredible points towards the end. I’m just really glad to overcome this challenge.”
The six-time Paris Masters champion improved to 8-0 in semi-finals at the tournament and 9-2 against the rising Greek star.
Djokovic will now go on to face Holger Rune in what will the the Serbian’s record 56th ATP Masters 1000 final.
He is also out to claim his third Paris title in as many appearances following triumphs in 2019 and 2021.
Djokovic fired 36 winners and 12 unforced errors, compared to 27 and 11 from Tsitsipas as both players showed great patience in building points.
He won 84 per cent (41/49) of his first-serve points and did not face a break point in the first or third set.
The 35-year-old made a fast start behind dominant serving.
He lost just two points in four service games on his way to claiming the opening set.
The Greek made a breakthrough on a rare Djokovic error to lead 3-2.
Tsitsipas capitalised on a lull from Djokovic to run way with the set, using his vicious, dipping forehand to bring up set point.
Djokovic was again imperious on serve in the decider which left Tsitsipas hanging in.
The Serbian dropped just two points in six service games but could not convert on four break points as the match headed to its climax.
The first six points of the tie-break stayed on serve as the tension mounted during the change of ends. Tsitispas struck first to lead 4/3 but then fell victim to a late charge from the Serbian, who scrambled from corner to corner to survive a point Tsitsipas seemed to have won twice over at 5/4.
With another clutch performance, Djokovic improved to 4-0 in third-set tie-breaks in Paris, with all four coming in the semi-finals or final.
Tsitsipas was denied a fourth ATP Masters 1000 final on the year after his title run in Monte Carlo and finals in Rome (l. to Djokovic) and Cincinnati.
Despite the defeat, he still has a chance to finish the season atop the ATP Rankings.
World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz announced on Saturday his withdrawal from Turin due to an oblique muscle tear.
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