BEIJING (AP) Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will renew their long rivalry in the China Open final on Sunday after both won their semifinals in straight sets.
The top-ranked Djokovic improved his perfect record at the tournament to 28-0 with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over David Ferrer of Spain, while Nadal defeated Italy’s Fabio Fognini 7-5, 6-3.
Nadal leads their head-to-head 23-21, but hasn’t beaten Djokovic since the French Open final last year.
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Djokovic dropped his serve for the first time this week, but broke the fourth-seeded Ferrer six times to close out the match in 74 minutes.
He has now won 25 straight sets at the China Open and will be vying for his sixth title in six attempts on Sunday.
The third-seeded Nadal reached his first hard-court final in more than a year. The Spaniard’s previous hard-court final was at the Sony Open in Miami in March 2014 and he last won a hard-court tournament two months before that in Doha, Qatar.
”For me, (to) be in the final is a great event. Very happy with that result,” Nadal said. ”The goal for me is try to find a good level at this end of the season.”
Nadal and Fognini each dropped serve twice in the opening set before the Spaniard got the decisive break to capture the set with Fognini serving at 5-6.
Then, in the sixth game of the second set, Fognini sent a backhand long to give Nadal another break and a 4-2 lead, which the Spaniard did not relinquish.
Fognini had beaten Nadal three times this year, including in the third round of the U.S. Open last month. He was trying to join Novak Djokovic as the only other player to beat Nadal more than three times in a single season. Djokovic beat Nadal six times in 2011.
”I know today Novak is not my league, is a different level of me this year,” Nadal said. ”Tomorrow is a match to try to enjoy and try to play the way that I want to play, and we’ll see.”
In women’s play, Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky defeated Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the final. With the result, she’s now assured of making the top 10 for the first time in her career.
”I never thought to be able to reach it,” Bacsinszky said. ”I’m just super proud. I think I’m not realizing it right now, to be honest, because I’m still playing the tournament. There’s a huge match also tomorrow to play.”
Bacsinszky will play Garbine Muguruza in the final after the Spaniard defeated Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Regardless of the outcome, Muguruza will move from No. 5 to a new career-high No. 4 in the rankings on Monday. The Wimbledon finalist has beaten Bacsinszky in both of their previous meetings.