Roger Federer failed to break his Paris Masters jinx when he fluffed five match points in a 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 semifinal defeat by local favourite Gael Monfils on Saturday.
The 12th-seeded Monfils will meet Robin Soderling in Sunday's final after the Swede saved three match points before ending Frenchman Michael Llodra's brilliant run with a 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 win.
Federer had five match points at 6-5 up in the final set but Monfils saved them to force a tiebreak, which he won 7-4.
While the 16-times grand slam champion will have to wait at least another 12 months to land a maiden Paris Masters title, Monfils will contest his second successive final here.
“I tried to stick to my tactics but it was not easy because Roger served pretty well throughout,” Monfils said courtside. “I tried to do simple things, to be aggressive. I did it, it's wonderful.”
Backed by the 14,500 Bercy crowd, Monfils put Federer under pressure from the start as the former world No. 1 had to see off three break points.
Just when it seemed that the Frenchman was within touching distance of his first win over Federer, Monfils lost his cool and his way to surrender the second-set tiebreak 7-1.
The Swiss opened a 3-0 lead in the decider. Monfils upped the pace to level for 4-4. The Swiss had five match points while 6-5 up but ended up spraying the stands with misfiring forehands. Monfils snatched his chance in the final tiebreaker, ending a two-hour 41-minute contest with a service winner.