World No. 1 Rafael Nadal broke the stubborn resistance of Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz to win 7-5, 6-4 and reach the last eight of the BNP Paribas Masters on Thursday.
In the semi-finals of the Paris event — one of only three Masters titles the Spaniard has yet to win — Nadal faces local favorite Richard Gasquet who, along with Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, have completed the ATP World Tour finals lineup.
Both players won their third-round matches at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, but it was Canadian Milos Raonic’s loss to Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych that sent them into next week’s season-ending showdown in London.
They join Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro, Berdych and Roger Federer in next week’s showpiece. All eight reached the Paris quarter-finals yesterday.
World No. 2 Djokovic and 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer, who is ranked sixth, also advanced in Paris.
Nadal, who has also yet to win the Miami and Shanghai Masters, broke decisively in the 11th game of the opening set and, after an early trade of breaks in the second, got the upper hand when he took Janowicz’s serve in the fifth game.
The Pole, who broke into the limelight by reaching last year’s final at Bercy — where he lost to Ferrer — contained his frustration, but Nadal’s top spin was eventually too much to handle.
Djokovic dispensed with the Darth Vader mask he wore last year, but was still too strong for John Isner in a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 victory.
The Serbian survived a barrage of aces from the towering Isner before ruthlessly taking him apart.
Federer showed glimpses of his brilliant best as he outclassed German Philip Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-4 to advance.
A day after securing his place at the ATP World Tour finals, the Swiss won comfortably to set up a clash with Argentina’s Del Potro, who beat him at the Swiss Indoors final in Basel last week.
Compatriot Wawrinka and Gasquet qualified for London after Raonic, who only had a slim chance of snatching one of the last two spots, lost 7-6 (13), 6-4 to Berdych.
Seventh seed Wawrinka, Djokovic’s next opponent, beat Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-2, while Gasquet, who knew he had qualified for the London event before his match, breezed past Japan’s Kei Nishikori with the same score.
Wawrinka is eighth in the ATP Race to London, with Gasquet in ninth spot. The cutoff point for qualification was lowered to ninth after British world No. 4 Andy Murray pulled out due to surgery.
Meanwhile, third-seeded Spaniard Ferrer continued his bid to become the first man to retain the Bercy title by demolishing France’s Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-3.
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Ana Ivanovic overcame Sam Stosur 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 on Thursday for her second straight victory in the group stage at the season-ending WTA Tournament of Champions in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The two-time tournament winner played aggressively to win the opening set in just 30 minutes. Stosur then broke Ivanovic’s serve in the second set to go up 5-3, but Ivanovic got the early break at 2-0 in the third set and cruised from there. She was to play Russia’s Elena Vesnina yesterday, with both players still trying to secure a spot in the semi-finals.
Vesnina outlasted Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 for her first victory at the tournament.
In Thursday’s last match, top-seeded Simona Halep of Romania swept past Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1 to finish the round-robin phase unbeaten. She had already qualified for today’s semi-finals.