The 14-time Grand Slam champion failed to break Federer once in their three-hour contest on Saturday, but he began the final impressively as he secured the first break of the match, on his fifth break point. "I couldn't be happier to end the season like this, to win against Novak Djokovic, the number one in the world".
Ultimately, though, Federer, who saved all 12 break points on his serve, saw his resilience ended as Djokovic extended his career lead over the Swiss to 25-22 after their longest-ever three-set duel.
Federer saved two match points but could not prevent himself slipping to a fourth straight loss to Djokovic, who advances into the final against unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov, who has never played in a Masters final.
But world number 18 Khachanov, a victor at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last month, hit back in the very next game as Djokovic dragged a forehand into the tramlines, down break point.
Federer came back in the second set winning 5-7, but lost the third 7-6 (7-3) with a double fault near the death costing him a place in Sunday's final.
Roger Federer of Switzerland (right) and Novak Djokovic of Serbia pose prior to their semifinal match of the Paris Masters tennis tournament at the Bercy Arena in Paris, France on November 3, 2018.
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Khachanov, a strapping 1.98-metre huge hitter with surprisingly fleet movement around the court for such a big man, took advantage of Djokovic being a little under the weather after a week struggling with flu-like symptoms. I want to talk about how well he (Khachanov) played all week. He deserves it. He's a young player up and coming.
The 22-year-old Khachanov, ranked 18th, is the first Russian to win here since Nikolay Davydekno in 2006. Luthi has been following Federer on the Tour for more than a decade, and he said: 'I have been working with Roger Federer for 11 years and the way to motivate him has also evolved.
'And he showed great quality today and he showed why we're going to see a lot of him in the future'. But throughout the match, it was Khachanov who controlled the baseline, landing his heavy groundstrokes deep in the court to push the Austrian back and control the baseline.
Then, with Djokovic clearly breathing harder, he earned the decisive break to go 2-1 up in the second set after the Serbian pushed a weary-looking backhand into the net.
"I'm satisfied of course and I'm going to be No. 1 tomorrow".
Sometimes I give him the training rhythm, sometimes it's him.' Asked on what Federer can improve, Luthi said: 'There are always technical innovations, even for Roger who has a fuori dal comune shots.