Djokovic to face Raonic at Paris Masters final
PARIS — Everything is going Novak Djokovic’s way right now.
The top-ranked Serb celebrated the birth of his first child last month, is on course to finish the year as the No. 1 player in the world for the third time, and eased into the Paris Masters final on Saturday — where he will face a player who has never beaten him.
"I try to cherish every moment that I experience on the court and also off the court," Djokovic said after easily defeating Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-3 Saturday and set up a final against big-serving Milos Raonic.
"Off the court especially this year, my private life with getting married, becoming a father, it’s been an incredibly joyful year for me," he added. "So I can’t complain. … I’m enjoying every moment of it."
Djokovic, the defending champion in Paris, has yet to lose a set this week in the French capital and needed just over an hour to complete his win against Nishikori, the Japanese player who beat him in the U.S. Open semifinals.
The victory also extended Djokovic’s lead over Roger Federer in their fight for the year-end No. 1 spot. They will be reunited for a last showdown at the ATP finals in London from Nov. 9-16 at the O2 Arena, where Raonic and Nishikori will also feature.
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.
The sixth-seeded Nishikori lacked his usual speed after a nearly three-hour match against David Ferrer on Friday.
"Maybe I was a little bit tired. My body wasn’t 100 percent ready for today’s match," said Nishikori, the first Asian player to qualify for the eight-player field at the ATP finals.
Raonic followed up his win over Federer with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory over former champion Tomas Berdych.
The Canadian came out on top when Berdych, the 2005 champion, 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 Raonic, the No. 7 seed.
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 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."