- ATP Tour
Solid Djokovic through to semis
Novak Djokovic produced a clinical performance to defeat Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-3 and book his place in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals.
Despite a late flurry of errors and a Nieminen revival, the world No. 1 proved too much for his opponent when finding the extra gears.
However, it was the Finn Nieminen who first seized momentum, breaking Djokovic in a lengthy opening game before holding to double his lead. The number one-seed did not take long to find his stride, breaking the serve back immediately and holding his own to level.
The first set continued to prove a tight affair, but Djokovic found a break in the ninth game before a long forehand from Nieminen handed the Serb the first set.
Djokovic continued to apply early pressure in the second set, breaking in the opening game after an early Nieminen double-fault, and his opponent quickly found himself with a mountain to climb when another long forehand moved Djokovic into a comfortable lead.
Nieminen struggled on his forehand, a third unforced error giving Djokovic a second break but the world No. 1 returned the favour with two unforced errors of his own to gift his opponent a chance to close the gap.
A late rally from 31-year-old Nieminen gave a slim chance of seeing the tie go in to a deciding third set, but Djokovic survived the break of serve to reply with his own for the match and a place in the final four.
"It was great, " said Djokovic. "Very solid from the back of the court. I played with the right intensity from the start of the match till the end.
"That's a big step forward for me today comparing to the first two matches in every sense. I finally got a great feel on the clay. Hopefully I can maintain that level tomorrow.
"I have to be prepared for quality rallies. He's a player who has won against some top players here, a player who feels good. He is going to have nothing to lose and will be motivated to play well in front of his Italian supporters that are many here."
Djokovic will face Fabio Fognini in the semi-final, after the Italian triumphed in straight sets over seventh-seed Richard Gasquet.
World No. 32 Fognini took the opening set 7-6(0) on the tie-break, before wrapping up the match 6-2 in the second to book his first ever ATP Masters 1000 semi-final appearance.
"I played another time I think a really good match with a fantastic player," Fognini told the ATP official website. "I mean, he is top ten and has won so many tournaments. Now I just have to say I'm really happy. It's my first semi-final in Monte Carlo, my home. I'm so happy."