Simon falls to Djokovic in semi-final thriller

World number three Novak Djokovic booked the first place in the final of the Shanghai Masters Cup after overcoming France's Gilles Simon in a nail-biting three-set encounter 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.


World number three Novak Djokovic roared into his first Masters Cup final with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Gilles Simon on Saturday.

The Australian Open champion recovered from a poor first set and weathered a late fight-back to reach the year-end title match at the second attempt after dropping out at the group stage last year.

On Sunday, the 21-year-old from Belgrade will face either fourth-ranked Briton Andy Murray or Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, who are playing the other semi-final later.

The Serb's victory ends a fairytale run by Simon, who only qualified for the eight-man event when top-ranked Rafael Nadal pulled out injured but shocked defending champion Roger Federer to reach the semis.

The piano-playing world number nine had been gunning to become the only French end-of-year winner and the first from his country to reach the final since Sebastien Grosjean in 2001.

In an error-strewn first set, Djokovic started slowly and struggled to hold serve as he was broken early and saved four set points before Simon took the lead 6-4.

The Frenchman got a let-off early in the second as Djokovic bounced a simple forehand off the net with break point for the taking.

But after treatment for an apparent neck strain, Simon double-faulted to go a break down, saved more break points at 4-1 and parried a return into the tramlines on the first set point.

Simon was rocking and but gained a lifeline break-back late in the decider before Djokovic broke again and clinched it with a backhand drop shot.

Djokovic lost all three group matches last year but beat Davydenko and Juan Martin del Potro to top his group.

The Serb has held the third ranking since August last year, winning three tournaments this season including his breakthrough Grand Slam title in Australia.

Britain's Murray knocked out Federer in a thrilling three-set match late on Friday, the first occasion the four-time champion has failed to reach the semi-finals in seven straight visits.

The 4.45 million dollar Tennis Masters Cup, featuring the top eight men's players, is being held here for the last time before shifting to London as the World Tour Final.

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