Novak Djokovic says his thrilling three-set epic with Roger Federer at the Paris Masters was “one of the best” between the pair.
In their 47th meeting, the Serb beat Federer 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 7-6 (7-3) to reach Sunday’s final.
Djokovic, who will return to world number one on Monday, will face Karen Khachanov after the Russian defeated Dominic Thiem.
“It was a spectacular match,” Djokovic told Sky Sports. “We went toe-to-toe.”
He added: “We’ve had some epic matches but clearly this is one of the best, in terms of the level of play.
“Along with the Wimbledon semi-final against Nadal, it’s surely the most exciting match this season.”
- Relive all the action from Federer v Djokovic in Paris
The 31-year-old, now unbeaten in 22 matches, is a four-time winner of the Paris Masters. A win on Sunday will see him draw level with Spain’s Rafael Nadal on 33 career Masters titles.
Swiss third seed Federer, chasing his 100th career title, seemed to be back to his best in Saturday’s semi-final and looked stronger as the match wore on.
The 37-year-old spurned set point in the first set tie-break and could only watch as Djokovic took the early advantage, roaring with emotion following a one hour 14 minute epic.
But, with nothing separating the two in the second, Federer finally broke Djokovic to win the set and restore parity – the first service break of the match.
Federer hit several sublime backhand shots down the line in the deciding set but Djokovic’s serve was dominant, although the Serb grew frustrated as the set wore on, his opponent standing resolute.
The third set tie-break proved Federer’s undoing as he found himself unable to answer Djokovic, allowing the Serb to seal victory in three hours and two minutes.
“Novak is obviously on a roll. You can feel it. At the end it came down to a few things here and there,” said Federer.
“But overall I’m happy with my game. It’s better than last week in Basel. There I won the tournament and here I played in the semis and it needed somebody of Novak’s calibre to beat me.”
Djokovic will face Khachanov for only the second time in Sunday’s final after the 22-year-old beat Thiem 6-4 6-1.
“He’s been playing some sensational tennis. He’s striking the ball beautifully,” Djokovic said.
“I’ve got to use my experience and hopefully I can recover before then.”
Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent
Their 47th meeting was one of their best.
Federer drove Djokovic to distraction by saving all 12 break points he faced – including one with a volley he wasn’t even able to see as the ball reared at him off the net.
Both served commandingly in the final set and the only anti-climax was the final tie-break in which Federer was error-strewn and Djokovic showed no mercy.
Federer has played superbly here, especially when you consider he was unsure whether even to compete after winning a 99th title in Basel last week.
But Djokovic is unquestionably the best in the world right now: he has played 32 matches since June and won 31 of them.