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Paris Masters: Novak Djokovic fightback sinks Andrey Rublev and sets up final with Grigor Dimitrov

Novak Djokovic shakes hands with Andrey Rublev at the net
Novak Djokovic (left) has now won five out of six matches against Andrey Rublev

Novak Djokovic fought back from a set down to beat Andrey Rublev in a pulsating Paris Masters semi-final on Saturday.

The world number one won 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 and will face Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in Sunday's final.

Dimitrov beat seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (7-3).

Djokovic is chasing a record-extending seventh crown and 40th Masters title, while Dimitrov will be playing for his second Masters trophy.

The Serb had won all eight of his Paris Masters semi-finals coming into Saturday's match, and Rublev threatened to inflict a first defeat upon Djokovic at this stage.

"Rublev was suffocating me like a snake suffocates a frog for most of the match," Djokovic said.

"He was playing at an extremely high level. I knew that he possesses great quality but today he played off the charts. I don't think I've ever faced Rublev this good."

After consecutive breaks of serve at the beginning of the three-hour match, it was Rublev who settled quicker. The Russian was composed and Djokovic agitated throughout the first set, making eight unforced errors compared with two from Rublev.

The fifth seed broke Djokovic to win the opening set as the 36-year-old played a loose drop shot which barely reached the net to concede the game.

Djokovic raised his level in the second set which made for a compelling encounter as both players came alive in fantastic rallies.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion created sumptuous angles and stretched impressively to reach balls. Rublev, 26, matched his opponent, dragging Djokovic around the court with precise, powerful hitting and utilising his trademark damaging forehand.

In the tie-break it was a familiar tale though, as Djokovic levelled the match, hitting a stunning cross-court forehand return winner in the process.

After receiving treatment on his back, Djokovic's experience shone through in the final set as Rublev finally succumbed, double-faulting on match point to gift the six-time Paris Masters champion victory.

Dimitrov dazzles against Tsitsipas

Grigor Dimitrov shouts in delight and punches his fist in the air in celebration towards his box
Grigor Dimitrov's last tour-level title came at the ATP Tour Finals in 2017

Dimitrov showed why he should still be considered a threat at the top of the men's game - the unseeded Bulgarian played sublime tennis and produced a high level when it mattered most in the deciding tie-break against Tsitsipas.

"There were no tears but I got very emotional," said Dimitrov.

"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."

The 32-year-old raced to a 3-0 lead at the start of the match, the early break enough to win the first set, but his Greek opponent took the second set in a tie-break.

The deciding set went with serve, and this time it was Dimitrov who stormed the tie-break, playing electric tennis which the world number six had no answer to.

Dimitrov hit three wonderful winners on his way to victory in the tie-break, the last of which a backhand cross-court shot which passed the 25-year-old at the net and caused the Bulgarian to jump for joy as he celebrated reaching the second Masters final of his career.

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