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In-Form Djokovic Cruises Past Nadal, Reaches 10th Final Of Year

Paris (Bercy), France

Novak Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic leads the ATP World Tour this year with most match wins and final appearances.

Third-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic denied Rafael Nadal the 400th singles win of his career Saturday, after he defeated the second-seeded Spaniard 6-2, 6-3 for a place in the BNP Paribas Masters final, at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Paris.  It was the pair's sixth meeting of the year and 20th overall (Nadal 14-6).

The 22-year-old Djokovic advanced to his fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final of the year (0-4 record) with victory over Nadal in 77 minutes.  Last week he captured the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel trophy with a three sets win over Roger Federer.  He leads the ATP World Tour for match wins in 2009, with a 75-18 record (50-10 on hard courts) and has a 4-5 record in ATP World Tour title-matches.

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"There's not much to say about today's performance, except it was perfect," said Djokovic, who hit 31 winners.  "[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.

"[I] took the early control of the match over my opponent, and it paid off.  I was hitting winners from all over the court and really trying to keep that momentum going throughout the whole match.  I didn't give him many chances to come back into the match."

Djokovic, who also beat Nadal in the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters semi-finals at Cincinnati in August, broke serve to love in the sixth and eighth games of an entertaining 34-minute first set.  Nadal, runner-up to David Nalbandian two years ago, won eight of 18 service points, including three aces, and 12 points overall.

Djokovic opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set, courtesy of another service break to love in the second game.  At 4-2, Djokovic recovered from 15/30 by winning three points in a row.  Nadal kept fighting, but never looked likely to reach his first indoor final since February at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

"He played very well," admitted Nadal.  "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]."

Monte-Carlo resident Djokovic improved to 33-41 lifetime against Top 10 opponents in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, including a 13-11 mark this year. 

Nadal, 23, has not won an ATP World Tour title since May, when he clinched his fourth trophy at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.  He dropped to a 64-11 match record (5-3 in finals) and a 14-8 record against Top 10 opponents this season.  He now stands 945 points behind Federer in the battle to be crowned year-end No. 1 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings.   

Djokovic takes a 3-0 lead into Sunday's final against 15th seed Gael Monfils of France.  The pair has not met since August 2008 at the Beijing Olympics.

"[Monfils] is one of the players who is very unpredictable," said Djokovic.  "He can play really, really fast.  And with a big serve, he can do a lot of damage to opponents.  I've seen a couple of matches in this tournament, and I've seen that he's in good shape.  He's moving really fast, he's fit, and he's motivate.  He's going to have big support of the crowd, and that's one of the key facts."

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