Isner eyes Paris Masters title after Nadal withdrawal

John Isner has moved a step closer to a Tour finals spot after profiting from Rafa Nadal’s withdrawal at the Paris Masters.

Isner needs to win the tournament if he is to qualify for the season-ending Tour finals at London’s O2 Arena later this month, and he kept that dream alive by beating Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 in the quarter-finals on Friday.

But the even better news for Isner is that he won’t face Nadal in the semi-finals after the world number one’s injury withdrawal handed Serbian qualifier Filip Krajinovic a place in the final four.

“I definitely wasn’t preparing to play Rafa (in the following round), today, it was all about Del Potro,” said Isner.

“You would think Rafa, if he took the court would be the favourite in that match. But I think it just goes to show how physical tennis is, especially with someone like Rafa who’s played a lot this year. I don’t know what’s going through his head, but I can’t control that.

“So whether I was playing Rafa or Filip tomorrow, it’s going to be a pretty similar game plan for me. So that’s what I‘m focusing on.”

Del Potro would also have sealed a Tour Finals spot by winning the tournament, but ninth seed Isner was more consistent.

Despite allowing Del Potro to level the match by losing the second set tiebreak on a double fault, Isner proved to be too good for the Argentine player.

The other semi-final will see French wildcard Julien Benneteau face 16th seed Jack Sock.

Benneteau gave the home crowd plenty to cheer with a 7-6, 7-5 win over third seed Marin Cilic.

A Cilic double fault saw him lose the opening set tie break, while Benneteau was immaculate in the closing stages of the second set – wrapping up the match with a forehand winner down the line.

America’s Sock secured a clash with Benneteau after coming from behind to beat veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-7, 6-2, 6-3.