MONTREAL - It will be Novak Djokovic and Mardy Fish in the Rogers Cup men's final.
Both the top-seeded Djokovic and sixth-seeded Fish took relatively easy paths, with the Serb winning when opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired in the second set with a sore arm and Fish dominating Janko Tipsarevic in two quick sets.
Clashing styles will mark the final, with the American bringing a serve and volley game and Djokovic the all-around brilliance that has made him the top player in the world this year.
"I don't think my game will significantly change," said Djokovic, who won the Rogers Cup on his first try in 2007. "I will play the game I always play — aggressive from the baseline, trying to take every chance to go for the shots.
"But there are different tactics with every player. Mardy is one of the rare players that plays serve and volley nowadays. I think these conditions, which are a bit faster, are quite suitable to his style of game. He's been winning his matches quite comfortably. He's been serving extremely well."
Toronto's Daniel Nestor and partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus, the second seeds in doubles, were eliminated, falling 6-3, 6-4 to fourth-seeded Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic. The top-seeded American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan won the other doubles semifinals 5-2, 6-1 over Tomas Berdych and Floridan Mayer.
Both singles finalists are in top form, but while Fish is hot, Djokovic is torrid.
The 29-year-old Fish reached a third straight ATP Tour final for the first time in his career with his 6-3, 6-4 victory over the listless Tipsarevic. He has won 11 of his last 12 matches, including a victory at Atlanta last month and a final two weeks ago in Los Angeles.
Djokovic, who led 13th-seeded Tsonga 6-4, 3-0 when it was stopped, improved his match record for the year to 52-1, including 28-0 on hard courts. The 24-year-old is in his first tournament since taking the world No. 1 ranking with a victory at Wimbledon a month ago.
He pounded Fish 6-3, 6-1 in their last meeting in Miami in March.
"Conditions are different," said Djokovic, who is gunning for a ninth tournament win this year and a record fifth in one season in an ATP Masters 1,000 event. "In Miami, the bounce is (higher) than here, it's slower than this surface.
"I've been playing night matches, he's been playing day matches. Tomorrow we play (at 3 p.m. ET). Maybe it's going to be hot. It's important when you play a player like Mardy to hold your composure, to be patient and wait for the chance on his service games, try to have high percentage of the first serves and stay aggressive. I know he's going to come to the net. I know he's going to take his chances. He's always played like that."
Djokovic lost only three points while winning five service games in the first set. He broke Tsonga to close out the set.
In the second, Tsonga indicated to the chair umpire there may be a problem just before he lost his serve for an 0-2 deficit. After 0-3, he was examined at courtside and opted to retire.
Tsonga said an ultrasound showed no tear in the muscle, but he was unable to continue. He said the arm had been hurting for three days but he opted to play on. He hopes it will heal in time for a tournament next week in Cincinnati and, if not, by the U.S. Open at the end of the month.
"The pain was worse day after day, hour after hour, on the court," he said. "You know, I don't have the pretension to try to beat Novak without my arm."
The crowd in the packed grandstands at Uniprix Stadium booed, which moved Tsonga to smile and say "they were disappointed because they wanted to see more, you know. That's it. So for me it was a good thing because it said they liked the show."
Fish has proved to be a tricky opponent who will mix a baseline game with attacks at the net. Tipsarevic admitted the tactic of raising and slowing the pace put him off his rhythm, although it remains to be seen if that will work against Djokovic.
"He's going to beat me in every baseline game we play," said Fish. "We're not going to play baseline games, fortunately for me.
"I mean, look, I'll have to play my absolute best and then some. If I play the way I played today, I'm certainly capable of beating a lot of players. This is a long way into the tournament now and you can see the finish line, so there's no holding back anymore."
He beat the unseeded Tipsarevic in only 76 minutes in a match that also produced little drama for the crowd.
"I win a lot of matches because I can play a lot of different styles, I think," said Fish. "A faster surface like this is going to suit my game perfectly — a hard court where I've got my footing pretty good.
"My serve moves through the court well. You can come in. You can stay back a little bit, as well. But to be this successful, I have to play really well, too, and I've done that."
Fish hopes to become the first American to win the Rogers Cup since Andy Roddick in 2003. He is the first American finalist since Andre Agassi in 2005.
His performance also helps his bid to be seeded high for the U.S. Open.
"I desperately wanted to go into the U.S. Open in the top 10," he said. "I'm not sure where this puts me now or if it moves me at all.
"At least it gives me a little cushion against some of the guys that are coming up."
Tipsarevic showed he was off-form when he double faulted on his first serve of the match en route to the lone service break of the first set.
The 27-year-old briefly got the 11,000 fans in attendance excited in the second set when he won eight straight points to even the set at 2-2. But Fish broke back and served out the set to win.
Tipsarevic upset two seeded players en route to the semifinals. He will move into the top 20 in world rankings with this week's performance, but he remains without an ATP Tournament victory.
Before this week, neither player had ever won a match at the Rogers Cup.
"I didn't even get into the tournament last year," added Fish. "I was not even in the main draw and didn't come, so it was a pleasant surprise to get here and see how fast the surface was."