Borna Coric upset defending champion Roger Federer, 6-4, 6-4, Saturday to face Novak Djokovic in the Shanghai Masters final in China on Sunday.
“It was one of the best matches of my life,” Coric said.
The Croatian gave himself a third career shot at Djokovic. In their previous meetings, Coric failed to take a set off of Djokovic.
The soon-to-be-No. 2-ranked Djokovic booked his final appointment after crushing No. 5 Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-1.
Federer has won three titles this year -- the Australian Open, Rotterdam and Stuttgart -- but all of them were earned before the start of Wimbledon in July.
Coric finished off Federer in style, with the final two points being an ace and a sizzling forehand cross-court winner. Coric didn’t offer Federer a break-point opportunity while managing to break Federer’s serve in the opening game of both sets. In all, Federer presented Coric with seven break-point possibilities.
Coric, who is 2-2 against Federer, also beat the 20-time Grand Slam champion in their last outing at Halle in June.
Djokovic’s win over Zverev and Federer’s demise guaranteed he will move up from No. 3 to No. 2 in the world rankings Monday, which has him swapping positions with Federer but still trailing No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
By the time Zverev was 6-2, 3-1 down, his emotions got the better of him as he hit a routine backhand into the net. He banged his racket to the ground, then gave it another swipe before tossing the mangled implement into the crowd. Djokovic posted only nine unforced errors to 24 for Zverev.
“I did everything I intended to do on my end,” Djokovic said. “It’s all working and it’s been a couple of perfect matches.”
Djokovic is targeting his 72nd career title Sunday. He has won all three of his previous finals in Shanghai.
Djokovic played his 1,000th career match against Zverev and holds an impressive 827-173 win-loss record. He’s is on a 17-match winning streak and is 26-1 in matches played since the start of Wimbledon. A win on Sunday would deliver a fourth title for the season to Djokovic, besides Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Pliskova faces Garcia in Tianjin final
Pliskova, playing on a wild card, needed only an hour to beat Timea Bascinszky 6-2, 6-1 in one of Saturday’s semifinals. It was Pliskova’s fourth consecutive win in the last two years over Bascinszky, who is returning from a long layoff with a right leg injury.
Pliskova won the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, beating U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka in the final in September.
Garcia moved into Sunday’s final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Hsieh Su-wei.
It marks the first final for Garcia since she won back-to-back titles at Wuhan and Beijing last year.
Alexandrova bounces back from terrible first set to reach Ladies Linz final
Ekaterina Alexandrova recovered from a disastrous first set against Andrea Petkovic at the Ladies Linz tournament in Austria on Saturday to reach her first final.
The Russian qualifier beat Petkovic 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 in their topsy-turvy semifinal.
Alexandrova plays Camila Giorgi in Sunday’s final at the indoor event.
Chasing her first final appearance in more than three years, Petkovic had a superb start, with Alexandrova winning only five points in the first four games. Alexandrova got back into the match and broke her German opponent at 3-2 in the only break of the second set before sweeping the decider and finishing with her seventh ace.
Giorgi beat Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 6-3, 6-4. The fifth-seeded Italian also reached the Linz final in 2014 when she narrowly lost to Karolina Pliskova.