Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Paris Masters – Accor Arena, Paris, France – November 5, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during an interview after winning his quarter final match against Taylor Fritz of the U.S. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS, Nov 5 (Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic stayed on course for a sixth Paris Masters title with a commanding 6-4 6-3 win over American Taylor Fritz to reach the semi-finals of the ATP Masters 1000 event on Friday.

The Serb will meet Polish seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz in the last four on Saturday.

Djokovic and Fritz traded fierce ground strokes in the first set before the 20-times major winner broke serve at 3-4. Fritz broke back immediately but Djokovic’s supremacy from the back of the court finally told as he clinched the opener in 38 minutes.

“I was absent from the Tour for two months, coming into this tournament, and the last competitive match I played was in the U.S. Open final, compared to the other guys playing one or two events prior to Paris,” said Djokovic, who lost to Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final at Flushing Meadows.

“I knew that I needed to start well, with good intensity and put in a lot of hours on the practice court. But it’s different when you play points in a competitive match.”

The pair again exchanged service breaks at the start of the second before Fritz blew a chance at 1-1 with Djokovic down 15-40. The Serb seized control after overcoming that minor blip, winning 12 of 14 points from 2-2 to register his fifth straight win over the 24-year-old American.

“I did have ups and downs. I am not really pleased with the way I closed out the sets. I lost my serve to love (at 1-1), then (at) 5-3, again, I served for it with new balls and lost to love again. Those things shouldn’t happen,” added Djokovic.

Victory in Paris will give the 34-year-old a record 37th ATP Masters 1000 title, one more than Spaniard Rafa Nadal.

Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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