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For a set, not even the granite defence of Novak Djokovic could withstand the brute force of Juan Martin del Potro but the Serb then rode out the storm to win the opening semi-final at the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday. The world number one soaked up some wrist-bending blows from the Argentine before turning the match in his favour to romp home to a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory at the O2 Arena.
Djokovic, the only player in the eight-man event to win all three round-robin matches, will face either defending champion Roger Federer or Britain's Andy Murray in Monday's final.
Djokovic was in trouble when he went a break down in the second set but once again he showed the qualities that have made him such a hard player to beat. Djokovic broke Del Potro's serve twice in the second and third sets and surged to victory in two hours 11 minutes after winning 11 of the last 14 games.
World number seven Del Potro had played down his chances or reaching the final despite beating Federer in their final Group B match on Saturday, saying three big names and one big guy had reached the semis.
However, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, back to near his best after some career-disrupting injuries, showed scant regard for reputations as he traded blows with Djokovic in the first set, breaking at 4-4 and clinching the opener with a love service game.
Djokovic found himself under immediate pressure at the start of the second set, and lost serve in the third game. But the world number one proved he was far from a spent force when he broke for the first time in the match in the following game. The sting suddenly went from Del Potro's game and Djokovic broke his increasingly weary-looking opponent for a 5-3 lead before levelling the match.