- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

PARIS (AP) - Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 21 matches and stayed on course for a third straight Paris Masters title after beating Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 in the semifinals on Saturday.

After defeating Wawrinka for the second time since losing to him in the French Open final and for the 19th time in 23 matches, top-ranked Djokovic bids for his 10th title of the season against No. 2 Andy Murray in the final.

“Credit to Stan for playing a great second set and coming back, winning five games in a row, serving more accurately, playing more powerful from the baseline,” Djokovic said. “But I still felt like I was hitting the ball well. With this kind of feeling and approach, I got to the third set and played the best set of the tournament so far.”

Murray earlier beat David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3 to record a fourth consecutive win against the eighth-seeded Spaniard, and reach his first final at the Paris indoor arena. The Briton is chasing his fifth title of the season and 36th of his career. His last was in August, when he beat Djokovic in the Rogers Cup final in Montreal.

“It’s always very physical, also very psychologically demanding (against Murray),” Djokovic said. “We push each other to the limit, and I don’t expect anything less.”

Wawrinka looked sluggish in the first set, perhaps unsurprisingly, seeing as Djokovic was probably asleep when Wawrinka’s quarterfinal against Rafael Nadal ended at 1:12 a.m. Wawrinka said it was nearly 4 a.m. by the time he got into bed.

“I have no regrets, I gave everything,” Wawrinka said. “Obviously, fatigue is there and it was very hard to fight today, but I’m happy with the way I managed to push him.”

The fourth-seeded Wawrinka ended Djokovic’s 29-set winning streak to level the match, but totally crumbled in the decider, dropping his serve three times.

The 10-time Grand Slam champion nailed his third match point when Wawrinka’s forehand sailed out, and the players hugged at the net.

“I have a very special relationship with Stan, like no other top player,” Djokovic said. “I do appreciate that. I think that was strengthened even more after the Roland Garros final.”

Djokovic took early control, breaking Wawrinka and holding with a superb flicked backhand drop shot followed by an ace to lead 4-1. He broke at the start of the second set and held for 2-0.

Wawrinka gave up trying to shorten the points to save energy, and started finding his range, breaking Djokovic at the fifth attempt in a long fourth game, and holding to love with a huge ace for 3-2, and breaking Djokovic again.

Frustration got the better of Djokovic when he missed three chances to break back in the next game, and he received a warning after smashing his racket against his shoe.

Wawrinka received a huge roar from the Paris crowd after holding to love with a volley at the net, but a thrilling third set never happened.

“I had no energy to come back at 0-3 down (in the final set), he started playing too fast,” Wawrinka said. “Given how late I finished last night, and the battle I had against Nadal, it was exhausting.”

Murray beat Ferrer in the French Open quarterfinals this year and leads him 11-6 overall, including six of their last seven encounters.

He overcame an early break in each set, reeled off the last five games of the match, and quickly secured victory on his first match point.

“I played some good tennis. I managed to shorten a lot of the points,” Murray said. “There was some variety in there with the way the points finished.”

Murray appeared in control after opening up a 3-1 lead. But Ferrer broke back, held for 4-3 and had Murray in deep trouble at 0-40 on his serve in the eighth game, only to let that advantage slip.

Murray punished that lapse by breaking him to love, then in the next game hitting a superb backhand lob on the run to earn a set point, which he clinched when Ferrer netted a weak backhand.

Ferrer broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set.

But again, he could not punish Murray, who sealed victory when Ferrer’s attempted drop shot hit the net.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide