Paris:Rafael Nadal will play David Nalbandian in the Paris Masters final, and Richard Gasquet clinched the last place for the season-ending Masters Cup despite losing his semifinal match.
Second-seeded Nadal beat Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday and Nalbandian defeated 10th-seeded Gasquet 6-2, 6-4.
But Gasquet already had enough points for the November 11-18 event in Shanghai before stepping onto the court because Baghdatis had lost.
Nalbandian is going for a second straight Masters title on Sunday after winning in Madrid last month, where he dominated Nadal 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
The Argentine doesn't expect it to be as easy this time.
"I think here is a little different than Madrid," Nalbandian said. "It's a little slow, and it's maybe a little bit better for him."
Nadal, who reached his first final since July 22, said his form has improved since that loss.
"My expectations were only to play well, so I didn't think about (reaching) the final," Nadal said. "I said before the tournament that I just wanted to play good because my goal was to finish the season with good feelings. Today I started playing very good."
Gasquet accepted he was "a level under" Nalbandian.
"I'm not sure I played a player as good as he is," Gasquet said. "Even when I played (Roger) Federer six times I never felt that way."
Nalbandian showed that his backhand is back to its brutal best after a fifth straight win over Gasquet.
"Backhand, forehand, he really plays well," Gasquet said. "Even if I play my best tennis, even then I'm not sure I could win".
Both Gasquet and Baghdatis dropped to 0-5 against their opponents, and Nalbandian felt he was not far off his best level.
"If I see the tape of the match, I think I played incredibly, almost perfect until the 5-2 in the second set," he said. "I would be playing perfect if I finished in that moment. So I think always there is a thing to improve."
Nadal was in trouble in the ninth game of the second set at a set down and 30-30 on his serve but Baghdatis missed a simple pass up the line and the Spaniard broke Baghdatis in the next game.
Gasquet has now earned enough points to reach the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai because Baghdatis can no longer catch him. Playing a match despite knowing he had already qualified felt odd, the Frenchman said.
"It's very strange," Gasquet said. "Maybe this destabilized me when I started playing my match. It was not easy to go onto the court."
All eight spots have now been filled. Gasquet will join Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, David Ferrer and Fernando Gonzalez for the November 11-18 event in Shanghai.
"It has been a real achievement," Gasquet said. "I never thought two weeks ago that I could make it. Qualifying for the Masters is incredible for me."
Nadal reached his first final since beating Stanislas Wawrinka to win the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany.
Nadal raced into a 3-0 lead but Baghdatis broke back twice and then saved three break points on his serve to lead 5-3.
"Marcos started playing very well inside the court and I got a little bit behind the baseline," Nadal said. "I played a little bit shorter and Marcos all the time went inside the court and hit winners."
With the Spaniard struggling on serve, Baghdatis broke him again for a 2-0 lead in the second set, only for Nadal to break back to 3-3.
"It's tough to lose a match (when) you're a set up, a break up, and everything's under control," Baghdatis said. "Maybe I (made) some mistakes, but it's because he put his level up a bit. He put pressure on me. He wasn't missing a ball. So it was tough. I had to make winners all the time."
The turning point came in the ninth game when, with Nadal at 30-30 on his serve, he hit a weak return that bounced up invitingly for Baghdatis charging to the net. The Cypriot tried to find the line but his passing shot went out.
"I didn't put it in, and that's the way it is," Baghdatis said. "But I have to continue playing like this, going for my shots, because I saw my forehand's going much better this week."
Baghdatis praised Nadal for playing at "500 percent" even though his opponent had already qualified for Shanghai.
"(Nadal) is amazing. I respect him so much for all he's doing," Baghdatis said. "He's just concentrating on every point. He doesn't give a point. He just makes you fight (for) everything."