Djokovic, Nadal reach final four in Monte Carlo

Updated: April 19, 2013


World No. 1 Novak
Djokovic and eight-time reigning champion Rafael Nadal secured berths
in the semifinals at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The two-time Monte Carlo runner-up Djokovic rolled past veteran Finnish left-
hander Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-3, while the third-seeded former No. 1 Nadal
barely won his 45th straight match on the red clay at the Monte Carlo Country
Club by holding off game Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in one of the
Spaniard’s biggest scares here in nine years. Nadal advanced in 2 hours, 8
minutes against the man they call “Baby Fed.”

“I know that when you have these tough matches, it is decisive to keep
fighting,” Nadal said. “If you keep fighting, you will lose some ones, but you
will have a chance to win a lot of ones, too.

“I gave that fight. Finally he had his chance, and I had my one, and I
converted. That’s it. I think I played better the last couple of games.
Obviously I’m trying to find better rhythm all the time. In my opinion, I did
it in the end. It was great.”

Dimitrov was slowed by some leg cramps in the deciding set on Day 6.

“It’s a tough loss,” said Dimitrov. “Of course, I think I gave everything I
had today. I must say, all the credit to him. He’s an extraordinary player,
extraordinary fighter. Today he obviously showed why he’s the best not only on
that surface, I believe, but he’s one of the best out there.

“Even though I lost the first set, I didn’t lose my composure on court, and
that helped me win the second. Eventually when the third started, I felt quite
comfortable playing. I actually started rallying with him much more from the
baseline, which I think I shouldn’t have done that too much. It’s a good
lesson to learn.”

The Australian Open champion Djokovic will meet scrappy Italian Fabio
Fognini on Saturday, while the seven-time French Open titlist Nadal will take
on sixth-seeded French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga seeking an 18th straight
overall singles victory.

This prestigious event dates all the way back to 1897 and has been
captured eight years running by the great Nadal, who defeated Djokovic in
last year’s final. Last year’s title tilt also marked a rematch of
the 2009 Monte Carlo championship match, which was also won by

Nadal, who is now 47-1 lifetime at this event, owns a record 22 Masters
titles overall.

Meanwhile, the former Aussie Open runner-up Tsonga fought back to beat 13th-
seeded Swiss slugger Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Fognini ousted
seventh-seeded French star Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-0), 6-2 on Friday.

Tsonga is looking forward to his match with the mighty Nadal.

“I have everything to win and nothing to lose,” the Frenchman said.

The 2013 Monte Carlo champion will collect $655,000.