PARIS (AP) — Defending champion Novak Djokovic easily defeated Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-3 Saturday to set up a Paris Masters final against big-serving Milos Raonic.
The top-ranked Djokovic, who returned to action this week after becoming a father, completed the win in just over an hour against the Japanese player, who beat him in the U.S. Open semifinals.
After trading breaks early in the second set, Djokovic saved three consecutive break points in the sixth game before converting his first match point when Nishikori’s lob was out.
Raonic followed up his win over Roger Federer with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory over former champion Tomas Berdych.
Raonic came out on top when Berdych, who won in Paris in 2005, lost his composure in the final game. Serving to stay in the match, the fifth-seeded Czech made four consecutive unforced errors, including two double-faults, to hand his opponent the win.
“In a very uncharacteristic way, he sort of just gave me a big opening, and I did good enough to make the most of it,” said the seventh-seeded Raonic.
Berdych smashed his racket in anger before leaving the court.
“I just totally messed it up with the last game,” he said. “It was definitely the worst game I ever played here on this tournament this year.”
Until then, Berdych had played consistently, returning well to neutralize Raonic’s booming serve and leveling the match at one set apiece after securing an early break in the second set.
“You have days like this when things are going well and then, just at the last moment, everything is gone,” Berdych said.
Although he did not come close to the 21 aces he had against Federer, Raonic added 12 to increase his tally this week to 75.
The 23-year-old Raonic, who qualified for the ATP finals in London for the first time with his victory over Federer, will be playing in his second Masters final after losing in Montreal to Rafael Nadal last year.
Raonic has been enjoying the best year of his career, winning his sixth title in Washington and making it to the semifinals at Wimbledon.
“I definitely think I can do a lot better than I’m doing now,” Raonic said. “I’m learning a lot more about myself, a lot more about my potential, what I believe I can do and how I need to do it. I think every goal that I set this year would be leading to me being in the finals in London, so to be able to achieve that is very special. It means a lot.”
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