Djokovic and Federer to clash in Paris
NOVAK Djokovic remains on course for a fifth Paris Masters title after beating Marin Cilic to set up a mouth-watering semi-final against Roger Federer.
Djokovic, who will regain his world No.1 ranking next week, faces Federer on Sunday morning (1.30am AEST) after the Swiss great's comfortable 6-4 6-4 win over Kei Nishikori to move a step nearer to winning his 100th career title.
Djokovic had his personal-best winning sequence of 30 consecutive sets ended in Bercy as Cilic played almost flawlessly aggressive tennis to draw first blood in a magnificent duel.
Yet it only prompted Djokovic to increase his focus and produce some supreme play to prevail 4-6 6-2 6-3.
It was all the more remarkable as the Serb revealed afterwards he was still feeling under the weather.
"I'm still struggling. It's kind of a flu. But it's not easy to perform every single day, the energy levels are not as high," he told reporters.
The Serb was in such an intense mood that even when he was fighting back in the second set, leading 5-2, he ended up screaming at his team, demanding to know why he hadn't received the vitamin tablets he'd asked for.
After being broken to go 2-1 down in the final set, Djokovic smashed his racquet, accepted the code violation and fumed in his seat before immediately breaking back.
When in more peril at break point down at 3-3, he delivered an amazing game-saving backhand at full stretch, which perhaps helped break Cilic's spirit. He squandered the next game before succumbing in two hours and 11 minutes.
Federer, in stark contrast, was hardly stretched at all in dispatching Nishikori, beating the Japanese for a sixth straight time while not dropping serve.
He did, though, offer a few glimpses of his best, which will be needed to beat Djokovic in their 47th meeting.
"I know Novak's on a hot streak so I think it's going to be tough. But nevertheless I think I've got nothing to lose," Federer said.
"I think I'm ready to do something tomorrow."
Earlier, Russian Karen Khachanov upset young gun Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-2 to reach the other semi against Dominic Thiem, who beat defending champion Jack Sock 4-6 6-4 6-4.
Khachanov took ruthless advantage of the German's physical struggles as Zverev, who was battling shoulder trouble, needed a medical time-out in the first set at 4-1 down.
The Muscovite deserved all the credit for the quality of his power game, however, as he broke the world No.5's serve six times in 70 minutes.
Sock had made an unexpected return to form after a wretched year since his surprise Paris triumph but his renaissance ended when Thiem fought from a set down to take control in a tough two-and-a-quarter hour duel.