SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Roger Federer brought world number one Novak Djokovic’s juggernaut to a halt when a 6-4 6-4 victory in the Shanghai Masters on Saturday set up a final against unseeded Frenchman Gilles Simon.
The 33-year-old Swiss was in aggressive mood against his younger opponent, who was on a 28-match winning streak in China, and converted his third match point with a backhand volley to end a semi-final slugfest that lasted one hour 35 minutes.
Federer, who will return to second in the rankings on Monday, broke serve in the fifth game of the first set after a couple of unforced errors from the twice Shanghai Masters champion.
The 17-times grand slam winner broke again in the opening game of the second set and went on to exact sweet revenge for his defeat in their last meeting, at the Wimbledon final in July.
Earlier, Simon moved into his first Masters Series final in six years after outclassing big-serving Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
The world number 29 faced little pressure on his serve and dominated the match from the baseline with some sumptuous groundstrokes to beat the 33-year-old Lopez 6-2 7-6 (1).
Lopez, who knocked out world number two Rafa Nadal in the second round, netted a backhand volley to hand Simon the first break of the match in the third game and the tall Spaniard only had himself to blame as a double fault gifted a second break.
The frazzled world number 21, under pressure from Simon’s winners, finally held to make it 5-2 but the Frenchman wrapped up the set in 25 minutes with an ace down the middle that swerved teasingly away from the left hander.
Lopez mixed up his tactics in the second set, opting to attack the net more to hustle his opponent, whose only previous Masters Series final appearance came in 2008 in Madrid, with some success.
The Spaniard came through seven deuces in the third game to avoid another break while Simon only dropped four points on his serve in the set.
The pressure finally told on Lopez in the tiebreak as he crumbled under a mix of double faults, netted returns and wild smashes to lose it 7-1.
Writing by Sudipto Ganguly, editing by Tony Jimenez