Djokovic edges Federer in Paris classic

Doug Mendoza
November 5, 2018

Djokovic will replace Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings on Monday, but was unable to match the Spaniard's tally of Masters triumphs ahead of the season-ending ATP Finals in London.

"That shows that I'm improving in my consistency, I'm becoming a better player, playing from the beginning of the tournament better and better, so that's a good thing", Khachanov said after the match.

"I watched [Safin's] matches but later, not at the age of eight", he said. "He protects his serve very well", Federer said.

The imposing Russian will face either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, who share 34 Grand Slam titles and 59 Masters titles between them.

Brilliant one-handed winners on the run from Federer down the line and acute-angle volleys at the net; astonishing elasticity while retrieving from the baseline and laser-beam forehands to the corners from Djokovic.

Djokovic briefly let his volatile temper get the better of him, though, when he had Federer at 15-40 down in the ninth game of the deciding set.

In a 47th meeting between the two greats, the stubborn Djokovic simply refused to be beaten as he claimed a fourth consecutive victory over Federer in a tie-break decider after three compelling hours.

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In Djokovic's own words to Sky Sports, the pair went "toe-to-toe" as Federer showed extraordinary quality in keeping the match so close against the sport's most in-form player.

Djokovic created pressure throughout but Federer saved every break point - all 12 of them - and secured the only break of the match in clinching the second set. Luthi has been following Federer on the Tour for more than a decade, and he said: 'I have been working with Roger Federer for 11 years and the way to motivate him has also evolved. "Most of the break points he just served well, and played great shots".

Djokovic was expected to celebrate his return to world number one on Monday with a record-extending fifth Paris title but he went down in one hour 37 minutes amid a hail of 31 crushing winners from the Muscovite's racket.

However, Djokovic in his trademark sliding style reached it with his return hitting the net on its way up. From a seemingly impossible angle, and totally off balance, he scooped his racket behind his neck and flicked a volley over the net for a victor. The imposing Russian thrust both his arms in the air and, moments later, knelt down to kiss the court.

Even by Federer's lofty standards, it was remarkable.

But after losing the match, Federer was left shaking his head.

Still, he retained a sense of irony. "It would have been five times if it continued".

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