Novak Djokovic delivered a masterclass to beat Carlos Alcaraz in the latest installment of their burgeoning rivalry to reach the ATP Finals showpiece.
The Serb will aim for a record seventh title on Sunday after a 6-3, 6-2 win put him through to face Italian Jannik Sinner in Turin.
Sinner became the first Italian to make the season-ending final with a 6-3, 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 win over Daniil Medvedev.
In doubles, Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram reached the final.
The defending champions beat French-Mexican pair Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Santiago Gonzalez 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 10-7 and will face Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers of Spain for the title on Sunday.
In a blockbuster encounter between the two players who have dominated the tour this season, Djokovic, 36, was at his ruthless and relentless best against his 20-year-old opponent.
He faced just two break points in the first set, in his opening service game, and delivered stunning back-to-back volleys at the net, followed by a smash to hold a seven-minute game for 3-2, but those were the only real times he faced pressure in the opener.
A loose service game from Alcaraz handed Djokovic a break for 5-3, and the Serb served emphatically out of love.
Djokovic broke early in the second set to tighten his grip on the match, but was then in danger of losing the advantage when the Spaniard had two break points in an enthralling sixth game that featured the best tennis of the match.
But the 24-time Grand Slam champion saved them both, including one by delivering a brilliant passing shot at the end of a 23-shot rally, and then went to a double breakup in the next game.
He then raced to 40-0 when serving for the match before the rare blemish of a double fault, before sealing victory with a smash.
Djokovic has won three of the season’s Grand Slams, beating Alcaraz in the French Open semi-finals, while Alcaraz won the other major by overcoming the Serb in the Wimbledon final.
The pair traded the world number one ranking through the season, but Djokovic sealed the year-end top spot earlier this month for a record eighth time, and his performance on Saturday underlined why he remains the player to beat.
But on Sunday, he faces a player who has beaten him very recently, Sinner, who ended Djokovic’s 19-match winning streak on Wednesday with a three-set victory in the round-robin phase.
If Djokovic plays at anywhere near this level on Sunday, though, the Italian may need to find another gear if he is to repeat that feat.
Djokovic said, “I may not have been as sharp in the second and third group matches this year, especially, but I felt the ball well right from the beginning tonight.”
“I approached the match with the right attitude and the right mentality, and I knew from the very first point that it was going to be greatly intense.”