Spaniard David Ferrer produced one of his finest performances to edge world No. 1 and compatriot Rafael Nadal 6-3, 7-5 in the Paris Masters semi-finals on Saturday and keep alive his hopes of being the first player to retain the crown.
Third seed Ferrer, who won his first Masters Series title in Paris last year, was due to face Novak Djokovic in the final of the indoor event yesterday after the Serb earlier subdued Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a battle of former world No. 1s.
Ferrer, who entered his match with a 4-20 win-loss record against Nadal, but had won their previous encounter on hard courts, at the 2011 Australian Open, dominated from the first point to the last.
He began aggressively, forcing Nadal to defend and breaking his opponent’s serve in the fourth game.
Nadal regrouped and created three break chances in the second game of the second set, only to see Ferrer level at 1-1 and then take advantage of one of the top seed’s numerous errors to lead 2-1.
Nadal threatened to record a great comeback when he leveled at 5-5, but Ferrer broke immediately and wrapped up the match on his first chance with a powerful groundstroke.
“It was a very good match for me. I played maybe my best match this season, very aggressive with my forehand and with my shots,” Ferrer told a news conference.
Djokovic defeated Federer despite struggling to control the brilliant Swiss early on.
“The key was just to hang in there and stay with him. I knew that he was going to be very aggressive from the start coming to the net. He used his opportunities really well,” Djokovic said.
“Then, you know, I tried to decrease the number of unforced errors and step in when needed. I did pretty well in the second and the third,” he said.
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Simona Halep battled back from a double break down in the third set to beat Ana Ivanovic 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 and reach the WTA Tournament of Champions final on Saturday.
Romanian top seed Halep was due to face fourth seed Samantha Stosur in yesterday’s final after the Australian beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the sixth-seeded Russian, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in her semi-final.