Djokovic to face Nadal in semis

2015-04-18 00:00

MONTE CARLO — Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for a record 43rd time today as the star pair battle for a spot in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal leads Djokovic 23-19 in the ­series, which began nine years ago; the Spaniard, now fifth in the ATP rankings, won their last meeting in the Roland Garros final last June.

Top seed Djokovic crushed Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-3 yesterday’s quarter-final, while eight-time Monte Carlo winner Nadal, slowly building up his form and confidence after a relatively poor previous 12 months, finally came through 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 against countryman David Ferrer.

Nadal, the third seed, struggled through in two and three-quarter hours after faltering when leading by a set and 3-0.

“I was pleased with my level in this match,” Nadal said after beating Ferrer for the 23rd time in 29 meetings — 20 of them played on clay.

“David played very well, it was a high standard from both of us.

“The match with Novak will be tough, he is so far ahead of the rest of the players right now.”

Djokovic won the first eight games against Croatia’s reigning U.S. Open champion, who is seeded eighth but still coming back from months of shoulder problems.

“Physically, it’s very demanding because I’ve played a lot of matches,” said Djokovic. “But momentum is on my side.”

Should he win the title tomorrow, Djokovic would become the first man to lift trophies at the opening three Masters 1 000 tournaments of the season after completing the Indian Wells-Miami title double.

Gael Monfils continued into uncharted territory, with the Frenchman slugging Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-3 for a career-first semi-final in the principality where he had never previously been past the third round.

Monfils, levelling his career in Monaco to 8-8, will next take on Tomas Berdych, who advanced into the final four as opponent Milos Raonic retired with a right foot injury.

Results on the sixth day of the ATP Monte Carlo Masters yesterday (x denotes seeded player):

Quarter-finals

Tomas Berdych (CZE x6) bt Milos Raonic (CAN x4) 5-2 - retired

Gael Monfils (FRA x14) bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x9) 6-1, 6-3

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Marin Cilic (CRO x8) 6-0, 6-3

Rafael Nadal (ESP x3) bt David Ferrer (ESP x5) 6-4, 5-7, 6-2

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