Paris, November 2: Rafael Nadal battled past fan favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to take his place in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.
Tsonga had displayed fine form in Paris heading into Friday's encounter, but Nadal, who is still yet to win the ATP 1000 event, had too much quality after making the breakthrough in a hard-fought first set.
While Nadal laboured at times, Novak Djokovic, who will relinquish his number one status to the Spaniard next week, had no such issues as he confidently dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini – who was sent out by Tsonga in the last 32 – clinched the last remaining ATP Finals spot thanks to Denis Shapovalov's straight sets victory over Gael Monfils.
NADAL DIGS DEEP
Nadal twice had to serve to stay in the first set, but having forced the tie-break, a wonderful backhand pass paved the way for him to forge ahead.
With the serve dominating throughout set one, it was Tsonga who blinked first in the second – Nadal taking full advantage of two sloppy shots to secure a first break of the match.
Soon-to-be world number one Nadal had finally hit his stride, playing a sublime through-the-legs shot to further drain Tsonga's confidence.
Despite showing resilience to hold, Tsonga was soon a double-break down, with Nadal wrapping up a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win when his opponent sent a desperate backhand return into the net.
DOMINANT DJOKOVIC HITS TOP GEAR
After struggling with illness in his opening matches, Djokovic was at his irresistible, untouchable best against Tsitsipas, who had no response to lose inside an hour.
A double break early in set one set the tone for Djokovic, who had the opener tied up in his favour inside 29 minutes.
Djokovic took just a minute longer to finish off set two, two more breaks ending any slim hopes of a Tsitsipas comeback before an overhit return from the Greek sealed his progression by an emphatic 6-1 6-2 scoreline.
BERRETTINI COMPLETES LONDON FIELD
With defending ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev having claimed his spot at the O2 earlier in the week, there was one place up for grabs heading into Friday's play.
The permutations were simple, with Monfils – ranked 10th in the Race for London – needing a win to take the place of Berrettini.
However, the French number one came unstuck in some style against Shapovalov, who cruised to a 6-2 6-2 triumph, and Berrettini now completes the top eight, alongside Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas and Zverev.
DIMITROV SWAPS HALLOWEEN TRICKS FOR SEMI-FINAL TREAT
Having already knocked out Thiem, Dimitrov claimed his spot in the last four with a 6-2 7-5 triumph over Cristian Garin, ending an 18-month wait to make a semi-final at ATP 1000 level.
The Bulgarian may have had to give up his Halloween celebrations, but it was a small price to pay.
"[A fantastic week] so far, I've skipped Halloween but it's a better place to be, here on centre court," Dimitrov told Tennis TV.
Halloween may have passed, yet the world number 27 now faces the scary prospect of going up against Djokovic for a place in the final.