Rafael Nadal suffers abdominal strain, withdraws from Paris Masters

Rafael Nadal withdrew from his semifinal match at the Paris Masters on Saturday with an abdominal strain, preventing a showdown against rival Novak Djokovic as both players are vying for the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Nadal, who could have ensured the year-end No. 1 spot for a fifth time if he won the event, pulled out of his match against Canadian Denis Shapovalov after suffering the injury during morning practice.

A scan revealed a small strain. Nadal returned to practice and still felt pain while serving then decided it wasn't worth risking a bigger injury.

Djokovic reached his sixth Paris Masters final with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win against Grigor Dimitrov, beating him for the ninth time in their 10 career matches.

Nadal said he hopes to be ready for the ATP Finals in London, which starts Nov. 10. Last year, Nadal withdrew prior to the Paris event with an abdominal injury and missed the ATP Finals.

"That's the biggest goal right now," Nadal said of playing in London. "We can call it unlucky, we can call it different things, but it happened today. And when things happen, the only thing that you can do is accept it. And even if it's a tough situation for me, I need to stay positive.

"... I have played three great matches, and I have been enjoying a lot being on court. So it's tough finish like this, this event. That's it. I need to accept and recover well mentally and physically from that."

Djokovic is bidding to finish the year at No. 1 for the sixth time.

The top-ranked Serb, who is looking to win a fifth title at Bercy Arena, cracked Dimitrov in the first-set tiebreaker after a set in which both players won more than 80% of their first-serve points and didn't face a break point.

With Dimitrov up 5-4 in the tiebreaker, a 32-stroke rally ended with the unseeded Bulgarian's forehand volley landing out, which elicited a roar from Djokovic, who punched the air.

On set point, a 35-stroke rally ended when Dimitrov chopped a backhand long.

In the second set, Djokovic got a service break in the fifth game. Serving for the match, Djokovic held to love and clinched victory when Dimitrov sent a return wide at full stretch.

Djokovic won his first title here 10 years ago and then three straight from 2013 to 2015. He lost his only final, last year, to Karen Khachanov.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.