Paris - Milos Raonic reached the final of the Paris Masters on Saturday with a bruising 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych.
It is just the second time that the fast-rising Canadian has made it
through to the final of a Masters Series event, losing in straight sets
to Rafael Nadal on home soil at Montreal in September, 2013.
For Berdych the defeat means the Czech's hopes of winning the Paris
title for the second time after 2005 went begging. To date that is his
only Masters Series title having lost in two finals since then.
Both men, however, were already assured of playing in the ATP World Tour Finals in London in just nine days time.
In Sunday's final, Raonic will play the winner of the second
semi-final opposing top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic and
Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori
With home heroes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils already
eliminated and crowd favourite Roger Federer sent packing on Friday by
Raonic, the atmosphere was distinctly subdued inside the Bercy Indoor
Hall for the first of the semi-finals.
As expected the serving was ferocious from two of the tallest players
in the sport at 1.96m for the Canadian and 1.90 for the Czech.Raonic was the first to strike with a break of serve in the fourth game, getting the better of Berdych in a punishing 25-shot rally to take a 3-1 lead.
That was enough to ensure him a one set advantage with Berdych failing to muster a single break point against the Canadian.
The second set, however, saw Raonic suffer a lapse of concentration
in the second game. A double fault gave Berdych his first two break
points and he converted the second of these when Raonic netted a
defensive backhand slice.
Once again the single early break of serve proved to be crucial with
Berdych having little difficulty in holding onto his own serve after
The decider was totally dominated by serve with the first 11 games
providing not a single break point and a tie-break looking inevitable.
But all that changed in the 12th game when a rash of errors from an
edgy Berdych brought up match point for Raonic and the Canadian clinched
victory with a big forehand, drawing a netted backhand from the Czech
who smashed his racquet off the ground in frustration.