Published — Sunday 4 November 2012
Last update 4 November 2012 5:55 am
PARIS: Jerzy Janowicz became the first qualifier in eight years to reach the Paris Masters final after beating Gilles Simon of France 6-4, 7-5 yesterday.
The 21-year-old Pole, who was playing in Futures tournaments at the start of the year, has beaten five top-20 ranked players on his improbable run. They were Philipp Kohlschreiber (19) Marin Cilic (15), Andy Murray (3) and Janko Tipsarevic (9).
In the other semifinal, No. 4 seed David Ferrer of Spain, defeated Michael Llodra of France, 7-5, 6-3.
In the first final of his career Sunday, he will meet the winner of the match between fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain and Michael Llodra of France.
Janowicz broke in the fifth game to take control of the first set and in the 11th of the second. He clinched victory on his second match point.
After hugging Simon at the net, the 69th-ranked Janowicz let out a scream and dropped to the floor with his head in his hands after becoming the first player in 12 years to reach a final on his Masters debut.
Janowicz was imperious on serve, winning 88 percent of first-serve points and not facing a single breakpoint.
“I played against an opponent who is full of confidence and who you sense is playing freely, hitting the ball as hard as he can every time,” Simon said. “His service game is really hard to get back. I think I’m among the best returners on the circuit each year, and I didn’t get the slightest chance. It was going really fast, on every service game.” He wrapped up the first set in 37 minutes, then broke the 20th-ranked Simon for the second time with a drop shot — another useful weapon, along with his booming serve.
“I knew what to expect from him, but I just couldn’t my game into place,” Simon said.
Janowicz is still struggling for sponsorship and missed the Australian Open this year because he didn’t have enough money to travel. He had previously reached only one career quarterfinal, at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last month.
He is now expected to break into the top 30 next week and beginning the year ranked 221st.
Jarkko Nieminen of Finland is the only qualifier to win a tournament this year — the Sydney International in January.
The last player to reach a Masters final on debut was Harel Levy of Israel in 2000. He lost to Marat Safin in Toronto. Safin also beat qualifier Radek Stepanek in the Paris Masters final in 2004.
Murray to face Djokovic
In Londo, Andy Murray has been drawn to meet old rival Novak Djokovic in a US Open final rematch in the group stages of the ATP World Tour Finals.
Britain’s Murray, aiming to win the season-ending event for the first time, will hope to repeat his dramatic victory over Djokovic in New York in September when they clash in Group A at the O2 Arena in south-east London.
As well as the US Open final, where Murray won his first grand slam title in an epic five-set match, the pair also faced off recently in the final of the Shanghai Masters.
Murray held five match points but it was Djokovic who eventually came out on top to make partial amends for his US Open loss.
Murray and Djokovic will also face Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in their other Group A matches.
The top eight players in the world rankings qualify for the tournament, but Spanish star Rafael Nadal is absent due to injury.
Defending Tour Finals champion Roger Federer, who has won the event a record six times but will lose his world number one ranking to Djokovic on Monday, is in Group B with former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, Spain’s David Ferrer and Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic.
The tournament is being held in London for the fourth time after moving from Shanghai in 2009.
‘I’ll be world No 1 again’
World No. 3 Serena Willams yesterday vowed to top the WTA rankings again, after finishing a year that saw her make a remarkable comeback from a potentially life-threatening condition.
“I’ve been No.1 and believe me I’ll be No.1 again,” Williams told a news conference in Johannesburg during an Africa tour with her sister Venus to promote the sport among young girls.
Williams finished 1195 points behind top-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on the WTA rankings, and 645 adrift of No. 2 Maria Sharapova of Russia.
The rankings drew some criticism as Williams beat Sharapova in the WTA Championship in Istanbul last Sunday, and won two Grand Slams this year as well as Olympic gold in the singles and doubles in London.
But she was little concerned about the rankings, she said.
“I’m not really thinking of it so much. I’m focusing on the Grand Slams.” “I had a slow start and that really affected my ranking.” Williams’ stellar performance this year followed a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a potentially life-threatening blood clot on the lungs.
She is visiting South Africa with sister Venus to give tennis training in iconic township Soweto in Johannesburg and promote the sport under African girls after a similar trip in Nigeria earlier this week.
The sisters will play an exhibition match against each other today.