Rafael Nadal's defeat gives Novak Djokovic hope of year-end No. 1

A workout with David Ferrer
A workout with David Ferrer

    JUST WATCHED

    A workout with David Ferrer

MUST WATCH

A workout with David Ferrer 03:59

Story highlights

  • World No. 2 Novak Djokovic will play David Ferrer in Sunday's Paris Masters final
  • Djokovic comes from behind to beat Roger Federer in Saturday's opening semifinal
  • ATP World Tour Finalist Juan Martin del Potro is robbed of prized rosary in Paris
  • Italy takes 2-0 lead in Fed Cup final against under-strength Russian women's team

Rafael Nadal failed to clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking for the third time in his career after suffering a shock defeat at the Paris Masters on Saturday.

The form player of the men's tennis season after coming back from long-term knee problems, Nadal could have added to his 2008 and 2010 feats by beating David Ferrer and reaching the final of the penultimate tournament on the calendar.

However, he lost 6-3 7-5 to his third-ranked compatriot, who will defend his title in Sunday's final against Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian earlier kept alive his hopes of being year-end No. 1 for the third successive year by beating 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer in Saturday's opening semifinal.

"I played maybe my best match this season," Ferrer said after ending a nine-match losing run to Nadal.

"Paris is very special for me. I made my first final of a grand slam in Roland Garros; last year I won my first Masters 1000 title; now I'm in the final again in Paris."

Read: Can Federer overcome back problem in London?

Second-ranked Djokovic had to come from behind to win 4-6 6-3 6-2 against the veteran Swiss, who is showing signs of improved form.

Secret to beating tennis' big four
Secret to beating tennis' big four

    JUST WATCHED

    Secret to beating tennis' big four

MUST WATCH

Secret to beating tennis' big four 05:40
Dmitry Tursunov's tour of Kuala Lumpur
Dmitry Tursunov's tour of Kuala Lumpur

    JUST WATCHED

    Dmitry Tursunov's tour of Kuala Lumpur

MUST WATCH

Dmitry Tursunov's tour of Kuala Lumpur 03:03

Both matches were dress rehearsals for the ATP World Tour Finals in London next week, where Nadal and Ferrer will be in Group A along with Tomas Berdych and debutant Stanislas Wawrinka.

Defending champion Djokovic and six-time winner Federer will be in Group B with Juan Martin del Potro and Richard Gasquet.

"I was pretty happy with my level of play," said Federer, who will equal Ivan Lendl's record 12 consecutive appearances at the season-ending event.

"I wish I could have kept it up for a bit longer and put him under pressure, but Novak battled well to stay in the match in the second set and the third set.

Read: Sweet revenge for Federer

"I had my chances in the second and third sets. Disappointed right now, but overall it was a good week for me."

On Friday, Federer avenged his Swiss Indoors final defeat by Del Potro -- and the Argentine's week got even worse when he was robbed at Paris' Gare du Nord train station en route to Britain.

His confidence will be shaken after losing his most prized possession -- a rosary that was blessed by the Pope in Rome this year, which was in a briefcase stolen as he checked in.

"My Rosary blessed by Pope Francis, I carried it everywhere," the 25-year-old told the ATP Tour website.

"That's what matters most to me. I was finishing the check-in and was asked for an autograph. I turned around to sign it and, within 20 seconds, it was stolen."

Wawrinka ready for singles success
Wawrinka ready for singles success

    JUST WATCHED

    Wawrinka ready for singles success

MUST WATCH

Wawrinka ready for singles success 06:11
Tennis greats gather for ATP reunion
Tennis greats gather for ATP reunion

    JUST WATCHED

    Tennis greats gather for ATP reunion

MUST WATCH

Tennis greats gather for ATP reunion 02:50

Read: Serving up a winning diet

Meanwhile, the Italian women's team took a big step towards a fourth Fed Cup title after winning both singles matches on the opening day of the final against an under-strength Russia Saturday.

Italy, whose last title came in 2010, saw its top-ranked player Sara Errani thrash Irina Khromacheva 6-1 6-4 after Roberta Vinci battled to a 5-7 7-5 8-6 win against Alexandra Panova.

Both Russians were making their debut in the largest team tournament in women's international sport, which featured 97 nations this year, as the country's top 11 players were unavailable.

The final clashes with the WTA Tour's Tournament of Champions in Bulgaria, a second-tier end-of-season event where Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenckova lost to Sam Stosur in Saturday's semis and Romania's Simona Halep beat Serbian Ana Ivanovic.

The International Tennis Federation, which plans to move the Fed Cup final back a week next season, announced Saturday that Tunisia will be banned from the men's 2014 Davis Cup tournament after refusing to allow one of its players to compete against an Israeli.

Malek Jaziri had been due to play Amir Weintraub at last month's Tashkent Challenger.

"There is no room for prejudice of any kind in sport or in society," ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said. "The ITF board decided to send a strong message to the Tunisian Tennis Federation that this kind of action will not be tolerated by any of our members.

"The board felt that suspension from Davis Cup, a competition that was founded 113 years ago to encourage better understanding through sport, would provide a good lesson for the federation and a fitting penalty for their unfortunate action."

      Tennis

    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.