The world’s top two players, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, will contest the Shanghai Masters final after both secured hard-fought wins on Saturday.
Top seed Nadal, seeking a seventh title of 2017, beat Croat Marin Cilic 7-5 7-6 (7-3) in two hours, 11 minutes.
Federer showed great resolve to thwart Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 3-6 6-3 6-3 in just under two hours.
It will be the elite pair’s fourth meeting of the year and the 24th time they have faced each other in a final.
The 36-year-old Federer afterwards dismissed concerns about his shorter rest time — his was the later match — and called the rivalry with Nadal “special”.
“The way we both play, play so very different from one another, and also the attitude, the way we go through our lives, it’s all very different in some ways,” said Federer, a crowd favourite in Shanghai.
“But we have a similar mindset in the big moments, I came to realise that when we played doubles (together recently at the Laver Cup).
“No sense of urgency or panic. You can tell we have been there many, many times before.
“He’s a great champ and he’s definitely one of the guys that makes me a better player.
“He made me rework my game and go back to the practice courts and think about what I could change.
“For that I’m happy for the losses I took (against him) and it’s nice that at this stage of my career we still have these matches going on.”
Nadal said he was just glad to be in the final.
“The way doesn’t matter,” he said with a smile.
“We are at the highest level of our sport so nobody wins easy. And if you want to compete in the most important events of the year and try to go for the victories, for sure you’re going to have tough matches, and today was one of them.”
The 19-time Grand Slam champion now turns his attentions to Nadal, who holds a 23-14 record over him