The Parisian crowd witnessed a classic between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on Saturday as the two greats battled it out in the three-set semi-final of Paris Masters — the season's final Masters 1000 tournament.
Federer pushed world number one Djokovic to the limits during his 7-6(6), 5-7, 7-6(3) loss in the slugfest that lasted three hours and two minutes at the AccorHotels Arena.
Federer, who has been struggling for serving consistency over the last two weeks, did not drop a set but ended up losing the match after a relatively poor show in the final set tie-breaker.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who had headed into the tournament on the back of his 99th career title in Basel, gave the Parisian crowd a lot to cheer with some jaw-dropping backhand winners and quick reflexes.
Federer went toe-to-toe with Djokovic but it wasn't enough to stop the in-form Djokovic from extending his winning streak to 22.
The 37-year-old acknowledged his arch-rival is "on a roll" but insisted he is happy about his mental and physical shape even after two weeks of rigorous action in the lead up to ATP Tour Finals, starting November 11 in London.
"I think the level was good from my side. Clearly, I have some regrets. When you lose a close match like this you always have. Wherever they are in the match," Federer said.
He added: "But, overall, it was a good tournament. I can look back and think it was definitely worth it to come to Paris. The welcome was great. I played some good tennis, so I can be happy.
"Novak is obviously on a roll. You can feel it. He protects his serve very well. I think I did the same as well. And at the end, it came down to a few things here and there.
"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. So, that's all right. I'm looking forward to a rest now and a good preparation for London."
"We're going to play against the Top 10 from the first [match in London]. It's not simple. My body is in shape. Mentally I felt tough. So, it's a good thing as well. And I reached the semi-finals [in Paris]... I can still be satisfied."
Federer was made to work hard in Basel wherein he played out a couple of three-setters en route to the top step of the podium. In Paris, the world number three had an easy route to the semi-final as he defeated Fabio Fognini and Kei Nishikori in straight sets after his second-round opponent Milos Raonic withdrew with an injury.
On the other hand, Djokovic will be facing 22-year-old Karen Khachanov of Russia in Sunday's final.
The Serb, considering his recent form, will be starting as the favourite and with doubts over Rafael Nadal's fitness persisting, Federer will be fancying his chances of clinching the year-end title.