PARIS: Defending champion David Ferrer upset compatriot and world number one Rafael Nadal yesterday to reach the Paris Masters final where he will meet Novak Djokovic who eliminated Roger Federer.
Ferrer, 31, who won his only Masters title last year in the French capital, dominated his fellow Spaniard 6-3, 7-5 to set up the championship decider against Djokovic who came back to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 against the 2011 Paris champion.
No player has successfully defended the Paris title after previous winners Boris Becker, Guy Forget, Pete Sampras and David Nalbandian all failed after reaching a second straight final.
Nadal hit an uncharacteristic 25 unforced errors and converted just one break point in seven attempts as Ferrer defeated his rival for only the fifth time in 21 meetings. The world number four received plenty of support from the Paris crowd and carved out the decisive break to go 6-5 in the second set before serving out for the match.
“It was definitely the best match I’ve played all week and I was fighting for every ball but I’m really pleased because I played my best tennis,” said Ferrer.
“Now, I’m going to try and recover and play a strong match tomorrow (Sunday) but I love it here and I have great memories,” added the man who defeated Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz in last year’s final. Nadal was sportsmanlike in defeat against the player he beat to win an eighth French Open earlier this year.
“He played much better than me today,” said Nadal.
“The thing that I can do when these kind of things happen is congratulate my friend and wish him the best of luck for tomorrow (in the final against Djokovic).
“I hope he will have his chance tomorrow. For me, just have tomorrow and Monday to practice a little bit in London (for the World Tour Finals). I need to work on a few things.”
Djokovic extended his winning streak to 16 matches as he came back from a set down to defeat Federer and keep his hopes of reclaiming the number one spot from Nadal firmly on track.
The six-time Grand Slam winner, who last suffered defeat in the US Open final against Nadal, overcame an inspired Federer before finally taking victory 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in just over two hours.
The 26-year-old Belgrade native had to reach the final in the French capital to have a chance of snatching back top spot from Nadal at next week’s World Tour Finals in London.
“Every time we play it’s a great match, challenging and intense,” said Djokovic.
Federer, whose only title this season was on grass at Halle, admitted he was beaten by the better man. Federer took the first set in dramatic fashion when he saved four break points at 5-4 up before converting his second set point when the Serb overhit a backhand that flew out the back of the court. Djokovic was broken again to open the second set when Federer found the line with a passing shot but then he importantly hit back to take the Swiss star’s serve for the first time in the match to level at 1-1.
Djokovic was gaining in momentum and got the break he needed to win the second set when Federer planted a routine volley into the net to go 2-4 down.
The 2009 Paris champion then held comfortably in his next two service games to close out the set 6-3 and level the match. An expected tight final set developed into a one-sided affair as Djokovic grew in strength and broke twice to take the match as he moved closer to a sixth title of the season. AFP