PARIS (Reuters) - The Roger Federer of old let his class do the talking in a 6-4 6-3 dismissal of Czech Tomas Berdych to reach his maiden Paris Masters final on Saturday.
The Swiss third seed, looking to become only the second player after Andre Agassi to win titles at Roland Garros and Bercy, dropped just 10 points on serve as he set up a meeting with Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who saw off American John Isner 3-6 7-6 7-6 in the other semi-final after saving three match points.
Former world number one Federer, who for the first time since 2002 has played a season without claiming a grand slam title, was in another league against fifth-seeded Berdych.
Asked if he was playing the best tennis of his career at Bercy, Federer joked: “Yes, I think.
“Let’s say it: Yes, I do. It doesn’t make any difference, but I think I’m more consistent now. I’m able to play several matches in a row, which I had a problem with before.
“This is the first time I’ve played several matches (here) and I was able to prove myself,” added the Swiss, who has won only two titles this year — his worst total since 2001.
Federer, who became the first player to reach the final of all nine Masters tournaments, got off to a brilliant start by breaking Berdych’s serve to open a 2-0 lead.
Sprinkling the court with winners, the Swiss kept the aggressive Czech at bay and bagged the opening set with another scorching forehand.
He broke again in the first game of the second set and never looked back during a brilliant 80-minute display.
Berdych, who was impressive in his quarter-final against Briton Andy Murray on Friday, struggled to cope with Federer’s array of shots and failed to earn a break point.
“I’m pretty confident to say that that’s the old Roger, like he was playing, you know, the years that he was really winning everything,” Berdych, who prevailed in the Paris indoor tournament in 2005, told a press conference.
“We can count (his) unforced errors maybe on the fingers on one hand, which is incredible. He started every set really great and just didn’t give me any chance at all.”
Both players, as well as Tsonga, will be at the ATP World Tour Finals in London from November 20-27.
The Tsonga v Isner match was a closer affair, with only one break of serve throughout.
Isner broke in the sixth game and held serve to clinch the first set, but the sixth-seeded Tsonga, the 2008 Bercy champion, upped his game in the second set, forcing his opponent to serve big to stave off three break points.
Isner lost his cool in the tiebreak, won 7-1 by Tsonga, who enjoyed the backing of the 14,500 crowd.
The local favorite went 40-0 up on Isner’s serve at 4-4 in the decider, but it was his time to lose composure, and the semi-final went down to the wire after Tsonga saved three match points in the 12th game.
Tsonga, who made the semi-final after world number one Novak Djokovic withdrew injured, opened a 3-0 lead and won the tiebreaker 7-3 with a forehand winner down the line after two hours, 58 minutes.
“At the beginning I was too tense, but then I just tried to enjoy myself and that’s how I play my best tennis,” Tsonga told reporters.
Next is Federer, a player he has met five times this year, winning twice. “I’ll have to be able to go into the court, go forward against Roger,” Tsonga said.
Isner said of his defeat: “In tennis — just in any sport — you come so close to winning, and then it gets taken away from you.
“I had three chances. I was one point away from being in the final. So it wasn’t to be. He came up with the goods, and hats off to him.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Stephen Wood