BEIJING: Novak Djokovic brushed off David Ferrer, 6-2, 6-3, to reach the China Open final, where old rival Rafael Nadal stands between the Serb and a sixth title in Beijing.
Top-ranked Djokovic suffered the inconvenience of having his service broken for the first time at this year’s tournament but he still raced to his 28th win at an event where he is yet to be beaten.
In the women’s semis, established names fell to rising stars as Garbine Muguruza beat Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and Timea Bacsinszky knocked out Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.
And on a cold day in Beijing, Nadal stared down his nemesis Fabio Fognini 7-5, 6-3 to reach his first hardcourt final this year as he searches to recover the form which brought him 14 Grand Slam titles.
Eighth-ranked Nadal, stopped at his beloved French Open by Djokovic this year, self-effacingly said the world number one was now a class apart despite his winning record of 23-21 in their head-to-head.
“I know today Novak is not in my league, it’s a different level from me this year,” Nadal said. “So for me be in the final is a great news and tomorrow is a match to try to enjoy and try to play the way that I want to play, and we’ll see.”
But Djokovic, who is now into his 12th straight final this year, dismissed Nadal’s assessment and said he was expecting a high-quality title match on Sunday.
“I always expect a battle with (Nadal),” he said. “I always prepare myself for the battle, no question about it. He’s the player I played the most against in my life. There are no secrets.”
Ten-time major-winner Djokovic had been irresistible in his run to the semifinals, dropping only nine games thus far and he soon had Ferrer gasping with two breaks of serve to go 4-1 ahead in the first set.