PARIS: Defending champion David Ferrer upset compatriot and world number one Rafael Nadal on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to reach the Paris Masters final where he will meet Novak Djokovic who eliminated Roger Federer.
Ferrer, 31, who won his only Masters title last year in the French capital, dominated his fellow Spaniard 6-3, 7-5 to set up the championship decider against Djokovic who came back to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 against the 2011 Paris champion.
No player has successfully defended the Paris title after previous winners Boris Becker, Guy Forget, Pete Sampras and David Nalbandian all failed after reaching a second straight final.
Nadal hit an uncharacteristic 25 unforced errors and converted just one break point in seven attempts as Ferrer defeated his rival for only the fifth time in 21 meetings.
The world number four received plenty of support from the Paris crowd and carved out the decisive break to go 6-5 in the second set before serving out for the match.
“It was definitely the best match I’ve played all week and I was fighting for every ball but I’m really pleased because I played my best tennis,” said Ferrer.
“Now, I’m going to try and recover and play a strong match on Sunday (Monday in Manila) but I love it here and I have great memories,” added the man who defeated Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz in last year’s final.
Nadal was sportsmanlike in defeat against the player he beat to win an eighth French Open earlier this year.
“He played much better than me today,” said Nadal.
“The thing that I can do when these kind of things happen is congratulate my friend and wish him the best of luck for tomorrow (in the final against Djokovic).
“I hope he will have his chance tomorrow. For me, just have tomorrow and Monday to practice a little bit in London (for the World Tour Finals). I need to work on a few things.”
Djokovic extended his winning streak to 16 matches as he came back from a set down to defeat Federer and keep his hopes of reclaiming the number one spot from Nadal firmly on track.
The six-time Grand Slam winner, who last suffered defeat in the US Open final against Nadal, overcame an inspired Federer before finally taking victory 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in just over two hours.
The 26-year-old Belgrade native had to reach the final in the French capital to have a chance of snatching back top spot from Nadal at next week’s World Tour Finals in London.
“Every time we play it’s a great match, challenging and intense,” said Djokovic.
“He was better than me in the first set and it wasn’t easy. I just had to stay confident and focused and wait for my chances. I was serving well and just kept patient and in the end it paid off.”