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Thread: Paris Masters Tennis: Nalbandian Tsonga clash in f

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    candel Paris Masters Tennis: Nalbandian Tsonga clash in f

    PARIS: David Nalbandian of Argentina and home hero Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will contest Sunday's Paris Masters final with the winner grabbing the final spot in the Masters Cup in Shanghai later this month.

    Nalbandian, the defending champion here, defeated Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in a topsy-turvy contest.

    Tsonga had too much power and panache for American James Blake winning at a canter 6-4, 6-3.

    That result ended Blake's Masters Cup hopes, made sure of qualification for seventh-ranked Juan Martin del Potro and means that the winner of Sunday's final between Nalbandian and Tsonga will complete the eight-man line-up in China.

    The six others already qualified before Saturday were Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Davydenko, and Andy Roddick.

    Nalbandian's win confirmed the fine vein of form that the eighth seed has struck as he gets ready for his ultimate goal, leading Argentina to their first Davis Cup title against Spain in Mar del Plata later this month.

    The muscular South American took up where he left off on Friday in his outstanding quarter-final win against Andy Murray by peppering Davydenko off both flanks.

    He won the first nine points of the match and allowed the sixth seed just three points as he coasted to a 5-0 lead.

    Davydenko finally got on the board by holding his serve in the sixth game and he grafted out three break points in the following game but left all three chances slip by as Nalbandian went a set up in just 28 minutes.

    Nalbandian grabbed another break to lead 2-1 in the second set, but the Russian dug deep to finally take the wind out of his opponent's sails by repairing the damage in the following game.

    That levelled out the contest and the set went with serve after that until 6-5 to Davydenko when the Russian stepped up the pace to break to love.

    It was Nalbandian who was up against it at the start of the third set with Davydenko's speed and serve causing him problems.

    But a magnificent rally won by the Argentinian to go 30-0 up on Davydenko's serve at 3-3 inspired him to grab the vital break of serve.

    Nalbandian served out twice for the win.

    For Tsonga it will be a first appearance in a Masters Series final and comes 10 months after the 23-year-old from Le Mans burst on to the world stage with his astonishing run into the Australian Open final in January.

    Since his Melbourne final loss to Djokovic, Tsonga has struggled with injuries requiring a knee operation during the summer.

    But back-to-back, three-set wins over top tenners Djokovic and Roddick in his two previous games in Paris had underlined his threat to become the first French winner here since Sebastien Grosjean in 2001.

    Blake held serve to start but Tsonga then rattled off three straight games including a break of serve to love taking charge of the net and sending the American back-pedalling.

    Blake, who had needed to make the final to clinch his place in Shanghai, was over-powered by the big Frenchman, and he promptly dropped the first set 6-4.

    Tsonga again broke Blake's serve to open the second set and the way the younger man was serving there was little chance of a turnaround in fortunes.

    Just to be sure, Tsonga broke the Blake serve again in the ninth game clinching the win on his first match point with another huge forehand, forcing the American to net a backhand volley.

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