Djokovic reaches Paris Masters final after beating Dimitrov

Tennis
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PARIS (AP)Novak Djokovic reached his sixth Paris Masters final with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win Saturday against Grigor Dimitrov, beating him for the ninth time in their 10 career matches.

The top-ranked Serb remains on course for a fifth title at Bercy Arena and a 55th career showdown against old rival Rafael Nadal. The second-ranked Spaniard was playing his semifinal later Saturday against hard-hitting Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

Djokovic and Dimitrov won more than 80% of first serve points in a tight opening set where neither faced a break point.

But when it mattered, Dimitrov cracked in the tiebreaker.

With Dimitrov 5-4 up and controlling the exchanges, a 32-stroke rally ended when he advanced to the net and tried an extravagant forehand volley to the left. He could have played an easier shot with a controlled backhand to the vacant right side of the court.

The ball landed out and Djokovic punched the air, roaring in relief.

Then, on set point, a 35-stroke rally ended when Dimitrov chopped a backhand long.

Djokovic broke him in the fifth game of the second set, the unseeded Bulgarian mis-hitting a forehand and sending it long.

Serving for the match, Djokovic held to love and clinched victory when Dimitrov sent a return wide at full stretch.

Djokovic won his first title here 10 years ago and then three straight from 2013-15. He lost his only final, last year, to Karen Khachanov.

Djokovic is bidding to finish the year as No. 1 for the sixth time.

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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