PARIS (AFP) - Milos Raonic reached the final of the Paris Masters on Saturday with a bruising 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych.
It is just the second time that the fast-rising Canadian has made it through to the final of a Masters Series event, losing in straight sets to Rafael Nadal on home soil at Montreal in September 2013.
For Berdych, the defeat means the Czech's hopes of winning the Paris title for the second time after 2005 went begging. To date that is his only Masters Series title having lost in two finals since then.
Both men, however, were already assured of playing in the ATP World Tour Finals in London in just nine days time.
In Sunday's final, Raonic will play the winner of the second semi-final opposing top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic and Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori.
With home heroes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils already eliminated and crowd favourite Roger Federer sent packing on Friday by Raonic, the atmosphere was distinctly subdued inside the Bercy Indoor Hall for the first of the semi-finals.
As expected the serving was ferocious from two of the tallest players in the sport at 1.96m for the Canadian and 1.90 for the Czech.
Raonic was the first to strike with a break of serve in the fourth game, getting the better of Berdych in a punishing 25-shot rally to take a 3-1 lead.
That was enough to ensure him a one set advantage with Berdych failing to muster a single break point against the Canadian.
The second set, however, saw Raonic suffer a lapse of concentration in the second game. A double fault gave Berdych his first two break points and he converted the second of these when Raonic netted a defensive backhand slice.
Once again the single early break of serve proved to be crucial with Berdych having little difficulty in holding onto his own serve after that.
The decider was totally dominated by serve with the first 11 games providing not a single break point and a tie-break looking inevitable.
But all that changed in the 12th game when a rash of errors from an edgy Berdych brought up match point for Raonic and the Canadian clinched victory with a big forehand, drawing a netted backhand from the Czech who smashed his racquet off the ground in frustration.