The world number 29 faced little pressure on his serve and
dominated the match from the baseline with some sumptuous ground
strokes as he blasted away the 33-year-old Lopez 6-2 7-6(1) on
Simon, whose only previous Masters Series final appearance came in
2008 in Madrid, will face the winner of Saturday's second semi-final
between world number one Novak Djokovic and 17 times grand slam
singles champion Roger Federer.
The Frenchman knocked out Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka and
sixth seed Tomas Berdych en route to the last four in Shanghai and
once again took down a more fancied opponent by moving him around
the hardcourt with strong groundstrokes.
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 and made it 4-1.
The frazzled world number 21, under pressure from the class of
Simon's winners, did finally hold to make it 5-2 but the Frenchman
wrapped up the set in 25 minutes with an ace up the middle that
swerved teasingly away from the left hander.
The Spaniard mixed up his tactics in the second set, opting to
attack the net more to hustle his opponent with some success.
[to top of second column]
Lopez came through seven deuces in the third game to avoid
another break as the pair both held serve with mixed success -- the
Spaniard fending off break points, while Simon only dropped four
points on his serve in the set.
The pressure finally told on the 33-year-old Lopez, bidding to reach
his first Masters series final, in the tiebreak as he crumbled under
a mix of double faults, netted returns and wild smashes to lose it
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)
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