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Nadal victory gives Verdasco London place

Rafael Nadal showed much improved form to see off defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Paris.
Rafael Nadal showed much improved form to see off defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Paris.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rafael Nadal beats holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach Paris Masters semifinals
  • Nadal will now face Novak Djokovic who saw off Sweden's Robin Soderling
  • Tsonga's defeat means Fernando Verdasco is assured a place in the ATP World Finals in London

(CNN) -- Rafael Nadal ended the Paris Masters run of defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday to help fellow-Spaniard Fernando Verdasco book his spot at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Tsonga needed to retain his title to deny Verdasco a place at the prestigious eight-man tournament later this month, but found Nadal far too consistent and fell to a 7-5 7-5 quarterfinal defeat.

The world number two struggled in his first two matches, saving five match points against Nicolas Almagro before edging out Tommy Robredo, but his form was much improved on Friday.

Tsonga dominated much of the first set with his blistering groundstrokes but could not take advantage of five break points and gradually Nadal took the sting out of his opponent before breaking in the 11th game.

The second set took on a similar pattern, although the errors were more frequent from the home favorite and Nadal again broke at 5-5 thanks to a poor game from Tsonga.

The 23-year-old confidently served out for victory and will now face third seed Novak Djokovic in a superb semifinal showdown on Saturday.

Djokovic was a 6-4 1-6 6-3 winner against Robin Soderling, who would needed to reach the final in Bercy to have a chance of reaching the London finals.

The Swede dominated the second set and created 14 break points on his opponent's serve during the match, but took only three of them.

Serb Djokovic admitted he was not at his best and was relieved to reach the last four after a fifth successive victory over Soderling.

He told Sky Sports: "I'm very pleased to go through, it was a big struggle for me. Mostly I was fighting myself. In the second set I was not moving well and I was letting him control the match but in the end I managed to hold the nerves and focus."

Nadal and Djokovic have met 19 times, with the Spaniard holding a clear lead at 14-5. However, Djokovic won their last encounter in Cincinnati in August for the loss of only five games.