Djokovic and Murray set for Paris showdown
Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic will take on second seed Andy Murray in Sunday’s Paris Masters final in the latest installment of their long rivalry.
In Saturday’s semis, Djokovic defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, while Murray edged past David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3.
Paris is the last of the nine Masters 1000 series for the season with Djokovic having already won five and Murray two.
The win over Wawrinka was sweet revenge for world number one Djokovic, who lost the French Open final to the Swiss star on the other side of Paris in June.
That prevented the 28-year-old Serb from completing his career haul of Grand Slam titles.
As he subsequently won the Wimbledon and US Open titles, having already wrapped up the Australian Open, it also stopped him from becoming just the third man, after Don Budge and Rod Laver, to win all four Grand Slam titles in the same year.
A break in the third game was enough for Djokovic to take the first set and, when he broke to lead 2-0 in the second, it looked like a straightforward win against a player who had finished his punishing quarter-final match against Rafael Nadal the previous day well after midnight.
But Wawrinka summoned up his last energies to run off five games in a row and level the set scores.
A love service game for Djokovic to start the third set, however, reversed the momentum and Wawrinka visibly wilted, allowing the Serb to power into the final for the third straight year.
Wawrinka said that it had not so much been the late finish against Nadal that had left him drained, but more the “exhausting” nature of his win in two tough tie-breaks.
– Hot and cold –
Earlier Murray defeated Ferrer to reach the Paris Masters final for the first time in his career.
The two-time major winner blew hot and cold in a roller-coaster of a match, but in the end he had too much firepower for the veteran Spaniard, a winner in Paris in 2012.
“There were periods of the match that were a little bit physical, but I did feel like I dictated a lot of the points and I finished a lot of points up at the net and was able to shorten enough points to not make it too tiring,” said Murray, who had some back pain after his tough quarter-final win over Richard Gasquet.
“So, you know, I feel pretty good. My legs feel fine.”
Murray, whose end-of-season priority remains the Davis Cup final against Belgium in three weeks time, opened the stronger, but Ferrer erased an early break to level at 4-4.
The 28-year-old Scot then won eight successive points to lead 5-4 and then serve out comfortably to take the opening set.
Ferrer broke first in the second set to lead 3-1, but Murray promptly stepped up a gear to pocket the next five games and clinch his fourth Masters 1000 series final of the year, having won in Madrid and Montreal.
It was his most comprehensive win over Ferrer since a 6-2, 6-3 win in Tokyo in 2011 and moved him 11-6 clear in their head-to-heads.
“It’s been a good year. I think most of the Masters events I played a pretty high level,” he said of his season so far.
“There are a few matches I feel I could have done a bit better. But, you know, for the most part it’s been very good.
“This is a tournament I’ve struggled at in the past. It’s nice to come here, put a few good wins together, and I think a few very good performances, as well.”