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Novak Djokovic battles past Andrey Rublev to reach Paris Masters final

Novak Djokovic will face Grigor Dimitrov in the Paris Masters final after taking down fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev in a nervy 5-7 7-6 (3) 7-5 semi-final.

The world number one is chasing a record-extending seventh title at the ATP Masters 1000 but has not always looked assured in this tournament, his first since winning the US Open in September.

Rublev controlled the first set, taking advantage of eight unforced errors from his Serbian opponent, who required treatment to his lower back after forcing the three-hour and two-minute match into a third set with an ace.

Djokovic, who sealed victory following a double-fault from the Russian, told Tennis TV: “Rublev was suffocating me like a snake suffocates a frog for most of the match.

“He was playing on an extremely high level. I knew that he possesses a great quality but today he played off the charts, honestly. I don’t think I’ve ever faced Rublev this good.

“On the other hand, I was struggling again with my fitness a little bit at the beginning, but I just kind of went through it.”

Saturday’s victory marked the 14th time Djokovic has reached 50 wins in a year and extended his winning streak to 17 matches to reach the 58th Masters 1000 final of his career.

Unseeded semi-finalist Dimitrov, meanwhile, reached just his second ATP Masters 1000 final and first since 2017 with a 6-3 6-7 (1) 7-6 (3) victory over seventh-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Bulgarian saved all four break points he faced and was at one point 15-40 down in the third set before digging in and willing himself into a mindset shift telling the ATP website: “I was just thinking it can’t keep going like this, so I have to change something. In order to beat someone like him I just had to step through. That is the only thing I could have done.

“There were no tears, but I got very emotional [after the win]. I am just living in the moment right now. It has been a funny road of late, but each win means more and more to me.”

Dimitrov will try for his ninth career ATP singles title on Sunday, and first since 2017.