SHANGHAI – Defending champion and top seed Novak Djokovic downed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday to move into the final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Djokovic, who surrendered the No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal this week, used strong baseline play and superior shot-making to secure the victory.
The Serb ran his win streak over Tsonga to nine straight with the triumph.
Djokovic will take on the winner of the semifinal between Nadal and Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro being played later Saturday.
Djokovic broke Tsonga in the second game of the opening set, then held serve to take a 3-0 lead.
Tsonga broke back in the fifth game to cut the deficit to 3-2, but Djokovic stepped it up, breaking right back and then won the final three games to take the set.
The second set was more competitive, staying on serve until the sixth game when Djokovic broke to go up 4-2.
Tsonga responded by breaking right back in the next game, where one of the rallies lasted 27 shots.
A couple of late line calls in that game upset Djokovic, who argued with the chair umpire, but ultimately kept his composure.
“When you’re on the tennis court, it feels like an arena,” commented Djokovic. “You’re fighting. It’s emotional. It’s intense. It’s normal. It’s not the first time nor the last time.”
The Frenchman was just two points from defeat at 0-30 in the 10th game, but steeled himself and held for 5-5.
Djokovic was unbowed, however, holding serve once more and then breaking a final time to claim the match with a searing forehand.
“I think I raised my game today compared to last night’s match,” said Djokovic. “I wish to get a better performance tomorrow for the most important match this week.”
Djokovic was unconcerned by who his opponent might be on Sunday.
“I still don’t know who I am playing against,” he said. “But accordingly I will adjust tactically and be ready to perform my best.”
Djokovic beat Nadal in the final to win the China Open last week in Beijing.
Tsonga’s last win over Djokovic came in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in 2010.
“I didn’t serve good enough in the first set to cause him some trouble, but after that I played better and better,” stated Tsonga. “I served better. I was more into it.”
Djokovic beat France’s Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Cool move: The organizers of the tournament developed an app for players this year that helps ease their way while in Shanghai..
It informs them about practice times, travel arrangements, stringing of their rackets, and many other matters that come up during the week..
It seems likely that other events will follow suit with this as time goes on.