Monte Carlo - Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for a record 43rd time on
Saturday as the star pair battle for a spot in the final of the Monte
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.
Djokovic crushed Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-3 in Friday'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.
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."
won the first eight games against Croatia's reigning US Open champion
who is seeded eighth but still coming back from months of shoulder
"Physically, it's very demanding because I've played a lot of matches," said Djokovic. "But momentum is on my side."
he win the title on Sunday, Djokovic would become the first man to lift
trophies at the opening three Masters 1000 tournaments of the season
after completing the Indian Wells-Miami title double.
set went completely my way. I knew he was going to start to change some
things in his game so he can start to play a little bit better," said
"But I made a crucial break in the beginning of the
second, as well. So the first eight games were really fantastic. I tried
to keep it up.
"All in all, it was probably the best match I've
played so far in the tournament. That's what I want, what I wish for in
"Obviously the amount of matches that I won this year
has helped boost my confidence level, helped me to feel good at this
tournament and continue on with good performances."
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.
flamboyant Monfils followed up on his surprise victory against Roger
Federer in the previous round while Bulgarian ninth seed Dimitrov came
onto the clay as just a shadow of the player who knocked out holder Stan
Wawrinka on Thursday with the loss of just three games.
very happy," said Monfils. "For sure I'm surprised because this is not a
period where I've played my best tennis so far."
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.
Monfils stands 1-5 against the sixth-seeded Czech, who won his 26th match of the season when Raonic quit.
seed Berdych, now 2-3 against Raonic, spent just 31 minutes on court
against an opponent carrying the existing handicap into the match.
has yet to drop a set this week and was in total charge through his
brief encounter with Raonic, striking 10 winners and breaking twice.
will be playing in his 18th semi-final at the Masters 1000 level; he
also played Monte Carlo semis in 2007 (lost to Nadal) and 2012 (lost to
"I'm in the semi-final, which is good. It's positive to
me," said Berdych, "But of course, it's not the ideal way that you want
to finish the match."
Results on the sixth day of the ATP Monte Carlo Masters on Friday (x denotes seeded player):
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