PARIS — Novak Djokovic has beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas for the eighth consecutive time, outscoring 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (4) in a spectacular semi-final to stay on track for a record seventh Paris Masters title.
The 21-time Grand Slam champion will then take on unseeded Danish teenager Holger Rune, who has never made it to a Masters final.
Tsitsipas trailed 15-40 on his serve in the ninth game of the deciding set, but saved two break points – the second with a superb one-handed backhand after a long play – to keep the score 5-4.
“Incredible scores towards the end,” Djokovic said. “I’m just really excited to get through this ordeal.”
The sixth seed Djokovic went 4-3 down in the tiebreak but won the next two points to go 5-4 up to go 5-seeded with two innings against the fifth seed Greek.
After a weak second serve, he used a great defense to win the play when Tsitsipas landed a right into the net, earning Djokovic his first match point. He took it, hitting the net, put his finger to his ear and shouted: “Come on!” crowd at the Bercy Arena.
“It’s really nice when you win these matches against one of the best players in the world,” said Djokovic. “I think I started the match very well, again, great shots like yesterday. I had chances at the beginning of the second. The momentum changed, the crowd got into it. I think he raised his level of tennis.”
Djokovic is also aiming for a record 39th Masters title, fifth title this season and 91st career title, to lag behind 22-time major tournament winner Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic improved to 9-2 against Tsitsipas, who won two of his first three but hasn’t beaten Djokovic since the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters in October 2019.
An inspired Rune defeated the eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-2 to stay on track for the biggest title of his career.
Rune, who has won both titles in his career this year, has reached his fourth season final in a row.
Competing in his first Masters semi-final, he scored 86% on the first serve and received no break points.
“It was an incredible match for me today. I really stuck to the plan for the whole match and used every chance I had,” said Rune. “Putting pressure on Felix was my game plan and I managed to do it almost perfectly. I’m very proud of how I handled everything.”
He ended Auger-Aliassime’s 16-match winning streak and ended the 22-year-old Canadian’s bid for a fourth title in a row.
Auger-Aliassime beat Rune in the Swiss Indoors final.
Djokovic beats Tsitsipas again and will face Rune in Paris final originally appeared on NBCSports.com