By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Rafael Nadal edged closer to a maiden Paris Masters title as he ended local favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s resilience in a 7-6(4) 6-1 victory to reach the semi-finals on Friday.
The 19-times grand slam champion, who will take over from Novak Djokovic as world number one on Monday, faced no break points in a ruthless display to set up a meeting with Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Shapovalov crushed Gael Monfils 6-2 6-2 to deny the Frenchman a spot in the ATP Finals, effectively handing the remaining ticket for the Nov. 10-17 showdown in London to Italian Matteo Berrettini.
Djokovic brutally dismantled Greek seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1 6-2 to advance into the last four, where he will take on Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, a solid 6-2 7-5 victor over Chile’s Cristian Garin.
Forced to a tiebreak by Tsonga, Nadal stayed composed before the Frenchman lost confidence and allowed the Spaniard to race to a routine win at Bercy.
Earlier, Djokovic showed no signs of the cold that had bothered him in his first two rounds to destroy Tsitsipas in under an hour.
“I played one of the best matches of the season. I prepared myself very well for this match. I lost to Stefanos about three weeks ago in Shanghai,” said Djokovic.
“And obviously I went through the videos and (got) understanding on what I did well, what I didn’t do so well, what I can do better.
“Obviously different conditions, you know, indoors, but I managed to really start off well and didn’t really allow him too many opportunities to really come back.”
The 16-time grand slam champion raced through the first set and came close to handing Greek seventh seed Tsitsipas a bagel as he set up three set points at 5-0.
Tsitsipas saved them but then surrendered the set with some awful shots.
After securing an early break in the second set, Djokovic did not look back as he avenged his quarter-final loss to the Greek in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters.
Earlier Dimitrov, who had been struggling since being beaten in the U.S. Open semi-finals in September, overcame a second-set wobble to reach the last four.
Dimitrov made a quick start as he broke Garin in his first service game. The Bulgarian bagged the opening set with another break in the eighth game as nerves got the better of Garin who was contesting his first Masters quarter-final.
Dimitrov moved 2-0 up in the second set but Garin hit back with his first break of the match to level for 2-2 and he stole the 28-year-old’s serve again to lead 5-4.
Dimitrov, however, broke straight back and wrapped it up on Garin’s serve on his first match point.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)