To be fair, Novak Djokovic had no real business beating Andrey Rublev in the semifinals at the Rolex Paris Masters. Djokovic has not felt well all week and has squeaked by in most of his matches at the tournament. On Saturday, not only was Novak Djokovic just a bit off again, but he was facing Andrey Rublev who may have been playing the match of his life.
Rublev was pushing the ball, hotting cross-court forehand winners, and getting balls to just clip off the top of the net and land over on Djokovic’s side. After a first-game break in the first set, Novak Djokovic then lost seven of the next 11 games. Rublev took the first set 7-5.
Many times during the second set, Djokovic fell behind love-30 on many of his service games. Yet, somehow as only he seemingly can do, he stuck around in the match even though he was being outplayed. Djokovic finished Rublev in three sets – his third three-set match in a row at the Paris Masters – 5-7 7-6(3) 7-5.
Novak Djokovic finds magic late and beats Rublev at Paris Masters
At no point in the match did Novak Djokovic ever feel truly in charge. He seemed to be playing behind in most of the games through the first two sets. The third set stayed on serve but as Djokovic does, he seemed to sense the end of the match was near and raised his level. In the end, his composure and placement on both forehands and backhands was too much for Rublev.
Rublev played one of the better matches of his life, though. He stayed mostly calm and didn’t beat himself. Against most players on the tour, he would have likely won in two sets. But against arguably the greatest player ever in Djokovic? Not so much.
Djokovic will now face Grigor Dimitrov in the final at the Rolex Paris Masters. Dimitrov has played brilliantly over the last several months. Djokovic has struggled with some kind of stomach ailment all tournament. If he does so again on Sunday, Dimitrov could surprise him. But as this is Novak Djokovic I am writing about, we always have to favor the Serb.