Djokovic into Shanghai final
Shanghai - Red-hot Novak Djokovic accelerated his push for the year-end number one ranking on Saturday, dismissing the challenge of Tomas Berdych in a one-sided semi-final at the Shanghai Masters.
The Serbian second seed came into the clash with an impressive 9-1 lead against the Czech player in head-to-head match-ups and immediately took charge, dominating the contest to win 6-3, 6-4.
"Tomas is in great form in the last couple of months. He's always a difficult player to play against on any surface because he has a very powerful serve and great forehand," said Djokovic.
"I played tactically right," he added. "I was putting a lot of returns into the court, making a lot of pressure on his serve. On the other hand, I was serving well when I needed to."
Yet to drop a set in Shanghai, the Australian Open champion was ruthless, breaking at the first opportunity and repeating the feat as he threatened to run away with the opening set.
But Berdych, 27, bidding to reach the elite ATP World Tour Finals in London, slowed his charge, retrieving one break as the five-time Grand Slam champion served for the set and making him work to close it out.
A single break in the second set was enough for Djokovic, 25, to progress to a final against either Roger Federer or defending champion Andy Murray.
Djokovic faded towards the end of a stellar 2011 but looks fresh as he hunts down Federer at the top of the rankings. He is looking to add the Shanghai Masters title to the China Open crown he won last weekend.
Because of his limp end to last season, Djokovic has relatively few points to defend in the rolling 12-month rankings whereas Federer has more to lose after a successful spell towards the end of 2011.
The second semi-final between Federer and defending champion Murray comes after two high-profile duels. The Swiss drew first blood, winning the Wimbledon crown in July, but Murray demolished Federer to take Olympic gold before going on to win the US Open.
Federer, 31, who will be world number one for a 300th week when the new rankings are issued on Monday, is looking to win a record 22nd Masters title, which would take him one above injured Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
There are four positions remaining in the eight-man field for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals next month, with Berdych currently in sixth spot in the Race to London.
Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal have all qualified for the end-of-season showpiece.