Soon-to-be-world No.1 Novak Djokovic survived a formidable examination from Marin Cilic and will next face Roger Federer for a place in the Paris Masters final.
Djokovic came from a set down to prevail over Cilic 4-6 6-2 6-3, a victory extending his winning streak to 21 matches.
Federer beat Kei Nishikori on Friday evening to reach the semifinals, where he now stands just two victories from a 100th tour title. The Swiss star beat Nishikori for the sixth straight time – he now leads the head-to-head 7-2 – after completing a 6-4 6-4 win.
“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,” Federer told atpworldtour.com.
“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.”
The quest for 100 continues!
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 2, 2018
Djokovic, who will reclaim the top ranking next week, had his personal best winning sequence of 30 consecutive sets ended as Cilic played almost flawlessly aggressive tennis to draw first blood in a magnificent duel on Friday.
Yet it only prompted Djokovic to increase his focus and produce some supreme play to turn the tide.
So intense was the Serb that even when he was fighting back in the second set, leading 5-2, he ended up screaming at his team, demanding to know why he hadn’t received the vitamin tablets he had been asking for.
After being broken to go 2-1 down in the final set, Djokovic smashed his racquet, accepted the code violation and fumed in his seat before immediately breaking back.
When in more peril at break point down at 3-3, Djokovic delivered an amazing game-saving backhand at full stretch, which perhaps helped break Cilic’s spirit as he squandered the next game before succumbing in two hours and 11 minutes.
Russian Karen Khachanov upset Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Paris Masters where he will face Dominic Thiem, who beat defending champion Jack Sock.
Khachanov took ruthless advantage of the German’s physical struggles as Zverev, who was battling shoulder trouble, needed a medical time-out in the first set at 4-1 down.
The Muscovite deserved all the credit for the quality of his power game, however, as he broke the world No.5’s serve six times in 70 minutes to set up a date with Austrian Thiem, who beat Sock 4-6 6-4 6-4.
Sock had made an unexpected return to form after a wretched year since his surprise Paris triumph but his renaissance ended when Thiem fought from a set down to take control in a tough two-and-a-quarter hour duel.
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