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November 15, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Djokovic batters Nadal to reach final

SERBIA'S Novak Djokovic extended a brilliant run of form by outclassing world No. 2 Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 to advance to the Paris Masters final yesterday.

World No. 3 Djokovic, who beat world No. 1 Roger Federer in the Basel final last week, will face local favorite Gael Monfils or Czech Radek Stepanek in the final of the last event of the regular season today.

Spaniard Nadal, who has not won a title since beating Djokovic in the Rome Masters final last May, will now prepare for the November 22-29 World Tour Finals in London featuring the world's top eight players.

Nadal returned to competition in October after a month off with a pulled stomach muscle. He reached the semifinals in Beijing, then the final in Shanghai where he lost to Nikolay Davydenko.

The first set was tight until Djokovic earned three break points in the sixth game, firing a backhand winner on the first.

Nadal kept struggling on his serve and went on to offer his opponent three set points with an unforced error two games later. Djokovic hit a return winner on the first, wrapping up the set in 33 minutes.

The 22-year-old Serb stayed on top in the second set, winning the first two games to love and breaking Nadal in the second with a forehand winner.

Nadal, who won the French Open four times but never this indoor event, could not recover and a near-faultless Djokovic remained in charge until sealing victory with a superb forehand on the first match point after just 76 minutes.

On Friday, Spain's Fernando Verdasco grabbed the last remaining spot for the World Tour Finals without playing.

Swede Robin Soderling and Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's defeats in the quarterfinals meant Verdasco became the eighth player to qualify for the season finale.

Verdasco, who lost in the third round in Paris, joins Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Roddick and Davydenko at the London event.

Nadal silenced a partisan crowd on Friday by knocking out Paris title holder Tsonga 7-5, 7-5. Djokovic had earlier ruined Soderling's hopes with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory.

Monfils, seeded 15th, made sure there would be a French presence in the last four by recovering from a set down to oust 12th seed Marin Cilic of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

The gifted but erratic Monfils worried his fans at first with clumsy errors but then stepped up a gear and thrilled a raucous 14,000 crowd with astonishing winners.

Stepanek, the 13th seed, qualified the easy way when US Open champion del Potro, who was hampered by an abdominal strain and was trailing 0-4, retired.

Argentine Del Potro, the world No. 5 who had survived seven match points before Chilean Fernando Gonzalez retired in their third-round match late on Thursday, clearly struggled to move around the court before quitting.


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