Djokovic, Khachanov meet in today's Paris Masters finals

Roger Federer I hoped for more success. US Open was a total surprise

Roger Federer I hoped for more success. US Open was a total surprise

"At the end it came down to a few things here and there", said Federer, who returned to play in Paris this week for the first time in three years. If he beats Federer, Djokovic will eliminate the Swiss from contention for World No. 1 in the year-end rankings.

Switzerland's Roger Federer reacts during his semi final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

Cilic had chances to break him in the fifth and seventh games and finally did so in the ninth when Djokovic hit a backhand long.

"I'm still struggling. It's kind of a flu".

By beating Federer, 33-year-old Djokovic extended his unbeaten run to 22 matches.

The Serb threw his racket down in frustration as Federer again escaped from 15-40 down to move 5-4 ahead, but the Swiss star's magic fizzled out as the final set headed to a tie-break.

"It was a big challenge".

The Russian fully demonstrated his confidence later on, finishing quadruple breaks for a 6-1 second set victory.

"When you lose a close match like this you always have regrets", a disappointed Federer said. "I won the match, but if he would've won it, it would've been absolutely deserved".

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One more victory can earn Djokovic a record-equaling 33rd ATP Masters 1000 title with Nadal.

But boy was he pushed hard by Marin Cilic.

Thiem, the world number eight who on Friday had booked his place in the ATP Finals, was out of sorts and seemed discomfited from the start by the depth and power of the groundstrokes he has seen so often from his regular practice partner.

When in more peril at break point down at 3-3, Djokovic delivered an unbelievable game-saving backhand at full stretch, which perhaps helped break Cilic's spirit as he squandered the next game before succumbing in two hours 11 minutes.

Federer, the 2011 champion in Paris, last beat Djokovic at the ATP Tour Finals in 2015 and was comprehensively beaten by his long-time rival in the Cincinnati Masters final on the eve of the US Open this year.

Djokovic's fourth straight win over Federer and 25th in 47 contests sends him into the final against unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov, who has never played in a Masters final. "I came here to Paris with no expectations and figuring that I'd just play a match or two, thinking I'd probably lose because I was too exhausted after Basel".

Nishikori, coming off a convincing win against South Africa's Kevin Anderson, lost 6-4, 6-4 to the world No. 3 in 1 hour, 19 minutes. Even though the latter's serve was not broken once, it was still not enough for the 37-year-old, whose nerve failed him in an anti-climactic final tie-break in which he served a double fault and made two careless groundstroke errors.

Now 11th in the world, Nishikori is expected to return to the top 10 for the first time in over a year following a season-ending wrist injury sustained last August. "Everything is fine between us and there is no problem".

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