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Djokovic Comes From Behind To Derail Federer

Paris, France

Novak Djokovic kept alive his slender hopes of finishing the year-end World No. 1 as he came from behind to defeat Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday in the BNP Paribas Masters semi-finals. 

Rafael Nadal was later defeated by David Ferrer, 6-3, 7-5, in the second semi-final. Nadal’s defeat leaves the door open for Djokovic to keep up his bid to finish year-end World No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Should the Serb win Sunday’s final, the battle will carry into next week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.

"No. 1 does not depend on me only. It depends on Rafa," said Djokovic. "I know there are small chances. If I finish No. 1 in the world this year, it would be an incredible achievement. I don't think it's very possible, so I just try to focus on what I can do and what I can influence, and that is my matches and winning as many matches as possible and building something that, can pay off next season."

Djokovic rallied from a set and a break down to narrow the gap to 14-16 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Federer. It was their first meeting since Djokovic had beaten Federer in the final of the 2012 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. They will meet again on Tuesday after both were drawn in Group B at next week’s season finale in London.

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The 26-year-old Djokovic is bidding to win the Paris title for the second time, following victory in 2009 (d. Monfils). The Serb is looking to capture his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown of the season, having triumphed at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Nadal) and the Shanghai Rolex Masters (d. del Potro).

Federer made a strong start to the semi-final contest, breaking for a 2-1 lead. He saved four break points in the 10th game before clinching the opener. 

The Basel native immediately capitalised on his momentum with a break of serve in the first game of the second set, but Djokovic fought back well. The Serb won five of the next six games to level the match and dominated the decider, losing only five points on serve as he claimed victory in just over two hours.

"The key was just to hang in there and stay with him," said Djokovic. "I knew that he was going to be very aggressive from the start coming to the net. He used his opportunities really well. He was very efficient at the net. Then I tried to decrease the number of unforced errors and step in when it's needed. I did pretty well in the second and the third."

Djokovic claimed his 199th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 match victory and his 66th win of the season. He is chasing his fifth title of the year.

Two weeks ago, Federer’s place at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals was in doubt. But the Swiss hit form at just the right time, reaching the final on home soil at the Swiss Indoors Basel, where he finished runner-up to Juan Martin del Potro, and beating the Argentine this week en route to the semi-finals. He secured his berth at the Final Showdown on Wednesday when he beat Kevin Anderson to reach the quarter-finals.

“I was pretty happy with my level of play,” said Federer. “I wish I could have kept it up for a bit longer and put him under pressure, but Novak battled well to stay in the match in the second set and the third set. I had my chances in the second and third sets. Disappointed right now, but overall it was a good week for me.”

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