Rafael Nadal edged closer to a maiden Paris Masters title as he ended local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s resilience in a 7-6(4), 6-1 victory to reach the semi-finals on Friday.
The 19-time 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 US 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.
Pliskova fights off tenacious Halep to set up Barty showdown
Karolina Pliskova edged a seesaw battle with Simona Halep in their final group match at the WTA Finals on Friday, downing the Romanian 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 to set up a semi-final with world number one Ashleigh Barty.
Pliskova demolished Wimbledon champion Halep in a remarkable 20-minute opening set.
But Halep showed her trademark tenacity in the second set, breaking the Czech in the opening game before going on to level the scores, firing down an ace to take the match into a deciding set.
The 28-year-old looked to be in control of the third set as she took a 2-0 lead but Pliskova reeled off five straight games - including two breaks of serve - to put herself on the verge of victory.
Halep refused to lie down, however, holding her own serve before picking up another break in the ninth game only for Pliskova to break again, winning the match via a fortuitous net cord.
“Today was a little bit tricky, I was up a set, then down a set and a break and I was just happy to find my way through and to never stop fighting and believing,” said Pliskova.
“I was a little but lucky at the end, but happy for that.”
Pliskova’s win means she faces off against Australian Barty in a clash between the world’s top two ranked players.
“We have played so many good matches and she’s having a great year so it’s going to be super tough,” said Pliskova.
“It’s going to be a big challenge but I have nothing to lose. She’s first and I’m second so she’s the one who has to win, so I’m just going to enjoy it.”
Earlier, defending champion Elina Svitolina confirmed her place in the semi-finals, where she will meet Belinda Bencic after a hard-fought 7-5, 7-6 (10) win over alternate Sofia Kenin that took two hours and 10 minutes to complete.
Svitolina had already guaranteed a first-place finish in the purple group, although the Ukrainian was made to fight for a third straight win in Shenzhen by the young American, who was drafted into the tournament following Bianca Andreescu’s withdrawal through injury.
A succession of double faults undermined Kenin in the opening set but she battled back in the second, pushing the 25-year-old all the way and fighting off five match points before eventually succumbing.
“I’m very, very happy that I finished the match in two sets and it was a very physical match and I had to stay very tough,” said Svitolina, who remains on track to claim a maximum prize of $4.75 million.