Novak Djokovic lived up his billing and them some as the best player in tennis right now. The Serb all but destroyed Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Paris Indoors, the final stop of the 2009 ATP regular season.
In tomorrow’s ATP regular season finale Djokovic will face my man, Gael Monfils. The French showman hung on to beat Radek Stepanek 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Nadal was simply never in the match. At times the Spaniard was reduced to a bystander to Djokovic’s complete mastery of the game.
“There’s not much to say about today’s performance, except it was perfect,” said Djokovic. “[It was] exactly the way I wanted it. I have done, tactically-wise, everything that I imagined to do and planned to do before the match. I was very aggressive.”
Djokovic now leads Nadal 6-3 on hardcourts having won two straight in their overall head-to-head which Rafa still leads 14-6.
Djokovic has now won 17 of his last 18 matches losing only to Nikolay Davydenko in a Beijing third set tiebreak. He also reaches his 10th final of the season in search of his first Tennis Masters win.
“He played very well,” said Nadal who has yet to win a title since Rome. “He played unbelievable, in my opinion. I didn’t play bad. That’s the truth. But with this level of Novak’s, [it] is very difficult to play at this level, especially [on] this surface. I finish the tournament playing much better than [how] I started [it].”
Nadal’s loss also severely dents his No. 1 hopes. Nadal will stand 945 pts meaning Rafa will have to win in London if he is to have any realistic chance of wrestling the year-end No. 1 ranking from Roger Federer.
While Djokovic cruised, Monfils barely avoided a colossal collapse. The 15th seeded Monfils served for the match in the second set at 5-3 but caved in as Stepanek reeled off four straight games to take the set.
But Monfils made no mistakes in his second attempt to serve out the match in the third, winning the entertaining affair in two hours, 42 minutes.
“I don’t feel tired anymore,” said Monfils. “I know tomorrow I’ll give my life on the court. I’ve been playing more than two hours today and the day before. It’s no longer a physical issue. It’s mental now. I want to win. I’m not listening to my body anymore. I’ll give it all.”
Monfils though has never beaten Djokovic in three prior meetings and while I’ll be rooting for Gael I don’t think he can bring enough to table tomorrow to beat Novak. To win he’ll have to get out in front of Novak early and get the crowd involved, otherwise Djokovic’s going to roll him. This is the best stretch of play the Serb’s ever put together and it’s hard to see him coming up short on Sunday.
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