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Nadal faces in-form Murray in Tokyo final

updated 3:29 PM EDT, Sat October 8, 2011
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal defeated Mardy Fish of the U.S. in Tokyo on Saturday.
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal defeated Mardy Fish of the U.S. in Tokyo on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rafael Nadal beats Mardy Fish to reach second successive Japan Open final
  • Spaniard will defend his title against Britain's world No. 4 Andy Murray
  • Tomas Berdych plays Marin Cilic in the final of the China Open on Sunday
  • Andrea Petkovic takes on Agnieszka Radwanska in the Beijing women's final

(CNN) -- World No. 2 Rafael Nadal is wary of the challenge posed by in-form Andy Murray as he seeks to defend his Japan Open title in Sunday's final.

Nadal has beaten the Briton in four meetings this year, including semifinals at three grand slam events, but Murray goes into the match having won 20 of his past 21 outings.

"I think it will be a very difficult match, he is doing very well winning last week in Bangkok and now into another final," Nadal told the ATP Tour website after beating American Mardy Fish 7-5 6-1 in Saturday's semifinals.

"I will have to play my best tennis to have any chance; it's a big challenge playing against him."

The Spaniard won his 65th match this year, overhauling previous leader Novak Djokovic, but is seeking his first hard-court title since winning in Tokyo in 2010.

I will have to play my best tennis to have any chance; it's a big challenge playing against him
Rafael Nadal

World No. 4 Murray cruised past Nadal's third-seeded compatriot David Ferrer 6-2 6-3 in 81 minutes to give himself a chance of a second successive title following his Thailand Open success.

"I played great from start to finish," said Murray, who is seeking his 20th ATP title. "It was always going to be a tough match, but I played smart and I was hitting the ball very deep from the back of the court, so it was a very good performance."

Nadal and Murray have already qualified for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London along with No. 1 Djokovic and Roger Federer, and Ferrer is fifth in the standings.

Fish holds the eighth and final berth going into the last month of tournaments.

Seventh-placed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was beaten by 10th-ranked Tomas Berdych in the semifinals of the China Open on Saturday.

The third-seeded Czech won 6-4 4-6 6-1 against the Frenchman to set up a final with Croatia's Marin Cilic on Sunday, seeking his first title in more than two years.

It will be Berdych's first final appearance this season after losing in six semis.

World No. 25 Cilic beat compatriot Ivan Ljubicic 6-4 6-3 to reach his third final this year, with the 23-year-old twice a runner-up in Marseille and on home soil in Umag.

In the women's event in Beijing, Andrea Petkovic will face Agnieszka Radwanska in Sunday's final as they both continue their bid to qualify for the season-ending WTA Championships.

Ninth-seeded German Petkovic ended the fairytale run of Li Na's conqueror Monica Niculescu, beating the Romanian qualifier 6-2 6-0 on Saturday.

Polish 11th seed Radwanska is seeking her second successive title after winning in Tokyo last weekend.

She won 6-2 6-4 against Italy's Flavia Pennetta, who knocked out world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki on Friday.

Radwanska has beaten Petkovic twice this year, but either player can break into the top 10 with victory on Sunday.

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