18 Apr 2015

Djokovic books semi clash with Nadal

12:44 pm on 18 April 2015

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 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.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Top seed Djokovic crushed Marin Cilic 6-0 6-3 in 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 US Open champion who is seeded eighth but still coming back from months of shoulder problems.

"The first 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 Djokovic.

"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 this moment."

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.