PARIS (AP) Qualifier Filip Krajinovic reached the Paris Masters final after an upset 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5) win against ninth-seeded John Isner on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Serb slid onto his back and sobbed, his arms raised, after sealing victory on his first match point. Krajinovic then knelt and kissed the court.
The defeat ended the big-serving Isner’s bid to reach the season-ending ATP Finals in London. Isner was a runner-up in Paris last year and again falls short of an elusive first Masters title.
Krajinovic is the lowest-ranked player in a Masters final since 191st-ranked Andrei Pavel in Paris in 2003.
The 77th-ranked Krajinovic had only won 17 matches in his whole career – thwarted by a wrist injury – before this tournament.
He will play for his first career title against either 16th-seeded American Jack Sock or home favorite Julien Benneteau, who play later Saturday. Neither has won a Masters title, either. Sock can still qualify for London if he wins the tournament.
Krajinovic, who looked fresher on court than Isner, is the first qualifier to reach a Masters final since Jerzy Janowicz in 2012, also in Paris.
Krajinovic was helped by not having to play his quarterfinal because top-ranked Rafael Nadal pulled out with a right knee injury. Nadal has not said whether he will be fit enough to play in the season-ending ATP Finals, starting Nov. 12 in London.
Serving for the first set, Krajinovic held to love when Isner sent a two-handed backhand into the net.
With Isner serving at 4-4 and 40-30 in the ninth game of the second set, the match was halted for six minutes when several medical staff attended to a female spectator, who was then taken away. She appeared fully conscious and had her eyes open.
Isner dominated the second-set tiebreaker and clenched his fist after leveling the match with an ace.
The 32-year-old Isner forged a break point at the start of the third set, but missed it with a wasteful forehand which went long.
A powerful forehand gave Isner another chance on Krajinovic’s serve at 30-40 in the ninth game, but Krajinovic saved that one, too.
In a tense decisive tiebreaker, Isner led 3-0 but Krajinovic rallied to move 5-4 ahead. Isner’s 31st ace steadied him but a superb return to Isner’s feet on the next point gave Krajinovic match point on his serve.
A whipped forehand winner into an open side of the court was enough, prompting wild celebrations from Krajinovic’s coach, Petar Popovic, who was topless as he shook his fists in delight.