Novak Djokovic won his eighth straight match against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday in the Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals, extending his twin win streaks to 13 matches both overall and at the ATP Masters 1000 event — but only just.
In a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4) victory, the Serbian won the final four points of the match after falling behind by a mini-break in the decisive tie-break, including a defensive masterclass to bring up match point. Djokovic could not 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 Bercy champion improved to 8-0 in semi-finals at the tournament and 9-2 against the Greek. Djokovic will next face Holger Rune in his record 56th ATP Masters 1000 final as he seeks to claim his third Paris title in as many appearances following triumphs in 2019 and 2021.
In a clean semi-final from both sides, the Serbian fired 36 winners and 12 unforced errors, compared to 27 and 11 from Tsitsipas as both players showed great patience in building points. Djokovic 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, losing just two points in four service games as he claimed the opening set. His consistent returning pressured Tsitsipas and when the Greek tried to attack his way out of 30/30 at 2-3, Djokovic produced two dipping forehands that landed at the feet of his opponent and forced volley errors. After breaking from 30/0 in that game, the Serbian eased to the opening set with a second break.
Tsitsipas zeroed in on return in the second, and after four straight games went to 30/30, it was the Greek who made the breakthrough on a rare Djokovic error to lead 3-2. He capitalised on a lull from Djokovic to run way with the set, using a vicious, dipping forehand of his own to bring up set point.
Momentum shifted again in the third set, with Djokovic again imperious on serve and Tsitsipas hanging in on his own deal. 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.
6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4)
3-6, 6-0, 7-6(5)
7-6(6), 5-7, 7-6(3)
6-2, 5-7, 7-6(3)
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 Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He trails Carlos Alcaraz by 1,470 points in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, with 1,500 points on offer for an undefeated champion at the Nitto ATP Finals, which begins 13 November. The Spaniard announced on Saturday his withdrawal from Turin due to an oblique muscle tear.