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Nadal beats Tsonga to reach Paris semis

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Paris (AFP)

Rafael Nadal saw off the challenge of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a straight-sets win on Friday to reach the Paris Masters semi-finals and boost his hopes of taking the year-end world number one spot.

The 33-year-old, who can secure the end-of-year top ranking ahead of Novak Djokovic by winning his maiden Bercy title, beat French wildcard Tsonga 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Nadal is bidding for a record-extending 36th Masters crown and will take on Denis Shapovalov in the last four on Saturday after the Canadian youngster thrashed Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-2.

Djokovic had earlier moved a step closer to a possible final clash with Nadal by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas and will next face Grigor Dimitrov.

Tsonga was rock solid on serve in a first set which did not see a single service game from either player even reach deuce.

But Nadal stepped it up in the tie-break, with two incredible winners on the run helping him take a crucial one-set lead.

Tsonga's serve briefly deserted him in the second game of the second set, as successive double faults allowed Nadal to claim the first break of the match and he then sped to victory.

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