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Nadal and Federer set for another showdown while Sharapova reaches first final since doping ban

The finals of the Shanghai Masters and Tianjin Open are down for decision tomorrow.

Nadal and Federer will face off tomorrow (file pic).
Nadal and Federer will face off tomorrow (file pic).
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated at 16.20.

RAMPANT RAFAEL NADAL stayed on course for a third successive title by beating a tenacious Marin Cilic in straight sets to reach the final of the Shanghai Masters.

The world number one claimed the US Open and China Open titles in his last two tournaments and stands on the brink of a first Shanghai triumph after seeing off Cilic 7-5 7-6 (7-3) on Saturday.

Nadal has now won 16 consecutive matches and will face old foe Roger Federer in the final following a fifth success in a row over Cilic, who has not beaten the Spaniard since their first encounter eight years ago and is still not assured of a place in the ATP World Tour Finals.

Top seed Nadal can claim a 31st ATP Masters 1000 title if he wins Sunday’s showdown, which would break a record he currently shares with Novak Djokovic.

Elsewhere, Maria Sharapova will face teenager Aryna Sabalenka in her first final since serving a drugs ban after coasting to a straight-sets victory over defending champion Peng Shuai in the Tianjin Open.

(SP)CHINA-TIANJIN-TENNIS-WTA-TIANJIN OPEN (CN) Sharapova in action earlier. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The five-time grand slam champion has not dropped a set this week and stands on the brink of a 36th WTA singles title – and a first since May 2015 – following a 6-3 6-1 demolition of third seed Peng on Saturday.

Sharapova set the tone by breaking in the first game of the match and did not allow Peng a sniff of fighting back in the first set, breaking for a second time after losing only six points on serve in the opener.

The former world number one pressed home her advantage, opening up a 3-0 lead in the second set and saving the only three break points she faced in the fifth game to lead 4-1.

Sharapova broke again in the next game and needed only one match point to serve out the match, setting up a showdown with the 102-ranked Sabalenka.

- Omni

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