Djokovic aims for second straight title

Paris, Nov 15 (DPA) In-form Serb Novak Djokovic hopes to back up an ATP title from a week ago when he faces Gael Monfils in the final of the Paris Masters Sunday.

Monfils will be aiming for a second year of French success at home after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lifted the honours in 2008.

Third seed Djokovic denied Rafael Nadal a 400th career victory Saturday as he crushed the Spaniard 6-2, 6-3 to move into a third ATP final in six weeks after Beijing in October and Basle last weekend against Roger Federer.

Monfils worked for two and a half hours to beat Czech Radek Stepanek 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, losing serve five times but breaking six.

Djokovic owns the Frenchman 3-0, with their last meeting at the Beijing Olympics.

Monfils, third in national rankings behind Tsonga and Gilles Simon, was making his third appearance in a Masters 1000 semi-final and could become the third Frenchman to win the Bercy title in this decade after Tsonga and Sebastien Grosjean in 2001.

Nadal, seeded second, had no answer on the day for the Djokovic, who will play his tenth final of 2009.

“There’s not much to say about today’s performance, except it was perfect, exactly the way I wanted it,” said the winner.

“I did tactically everything that I imagined to do and planned to do before the match.

“I took early control and it paid off, you know. I was hitting winners from all over the court and really trying to keep that momentum going on throughout the whole match.

“That’s what I did, I didn’t give him many chances to come back into the match.”

The Djokovic win in 76 minutes was only his sixth in the series against 14 defeats.

“I’m very happy about one thing – I finished the tournament playing much better than what I start, so always is very good that,” said Nadal, who will return home to Mallorca for a few days before heading to London for the year-end championships.

“He played very well, he played unbelievable, in my opinion. There was nothing I could do today. I didn’t play bad, but with this level of Novak, is very difficult to play at this level, especially in this surface, indoor hard, fast court.”

Djokovic added a win to his ATP-leading record to stand 7-18 match record, the most wins of any player this season. He also leads the table on ten final appearances, converting three into 2009 titles.

Nadal’s loss was his 11th this season as elite players prepare to move to London from the weekend for the World Tour Finals starting a week from Sunday.

Djokovic will play his fifth Masters 1000 final of this season, including three consecutive – Miami, Monte Carlo (where he lost to Nadal in three sets) and Rome (another loss to the Spaniard).

That win in Rome marked the last title for Nadal.

Djokovic has a 32-8 record at the Masters level in 2009 and stands 13-11 versus Top 10 opponents this year.

Nadal exited in his second Paris Bercy semi-final appearance after losing at this stage in 2007 against David Nalbandian.