Paris — the top Novak Djokovic The fight lasted for more than three hours Andrei Rublev in their semifinal match on Saturday before earning the right to play for a record-extending seventh title at the Paris Masters.
Djokovic overcame a slow start to beat his Russian opponent 5-7, 7-6 (3), 7-5 to maintain his perfect record in the semi-finals at the indoor tournament. Serbian players will play against Bulgaria Grigor Dimitrov In the final on Sunday.
“Rubelov choked me like a snake for most of the match,” Djokovic said. “He was playing at a very high level that he possessed, but today he was off the charts, to be honest. I don’t think I’ve faced Rubelov.”
Dimitrov overcame strong resistance from the seventh seed Stephanos Tsitsipas with a 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (3) win.
The road to the final was not easy for Djokovic, who defeated the defending champion Holger Rune In the quarterfinals in three sets and in the third round came the top of the three-set contest.
Djokovic said he had been hampered by a stomach virus that had made him feel terrible the past three days. He boasted of “not giving up, fighting and believing that I can come back, which has happened again and hopefully can happen tomorrow.”
Against Rubelov, Djokovic initially made some uncharacteristic mistakes from the baseline but improved as the match progressed.
Rublev earned a set point at 6-5 in the opener when he hit a superb backhand return with a weak second serve from Djokovic which he followed up with a forehand winner. Djokovic then fluffed a drop shot that went back into his own half.
Rublev was in trouble at 0-40 in the fifth game of the second set but stayed calm to save three break points. He was lucky in the third when his backhand hit the net cord and bounced past Djokovic.
Rublev continued to use his big forehand to good effect and saved another break point to lead 4-3.
Djokovic made the difference in the tiebreaker with inspired shot making. After surging to the top of a long rally, he led 4-2 and was 6-3 up thanks to a brilliant forehand return. He sealed the set with an ace.
Djokovic then called the physio to treat his back.
Once back on court, he served extremely well throughout the deciding set. Rubelov was also excellent, but finally cracked in the 12th game, giving up his serve and the match. Rublev double-faulted on match point and slammed his racket on the floor in anger.
Earlier, Dimitrov returned to the final of the Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in six years.
Dimitrov performed well, hitting 38 winners and was flawless at the net to defeat Tsitsipas.
He made the most of the Greek’s poor start to claim the first set and staged a comeback in the second set, saving his opponent two break points at 4-4.
Dimitrov made several mistakes in the tiebreaker as Tsitsipas forced a decider, pointing to the crowd for support.
Dimitrov said, “I’m happy that I got through the match like that.
Tsitsipas failed to convert four break point opportunities in the third game.
“The second set, especially after the tiebreak, it was getting very complicated again. 15-40 down again in the third and I was just thinking it can’t go like this, so I have to make some changes,” Dimitrov said.
Dimitrov rose to the occasion in the final tiebreaker when he hit three great passing shots, one of which sealed the match.
“The first five points in the tiebreak were excellent,” Dimitrov said. “I took those chances and did what I could against such a high-quality player. If you let him dictate, you’re going to be finished. But I kept faith and stayed strong and made sure every time I focused on the ball. Racket, I did it. I did something with it.”
Dimitrov is chasing his first tour-level tournament since 2017, when he won the ATP Finals. He reached his only previous Masters 1000 final that same year in Cincinnati.