Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal moved a step closer to a Sunday showdown in the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters.
A day after the passing of his grandfather, the top ranked Djokovic brushed aside Robin Haase 6-4, 6-2. Djokovic was broken four times in the emotional win.
“I was very close to him, so it was a big loss for me and all the family,” reflected Novak of his grandfather. “But he’s with me, I know that, in spirit. I’m remembering only the nicest memories, and that’s what gave me strength to play yesterday and today.”
Djokovic will meet Tomas Berdych in the first semifinal tomorrow. The Czech improved to 4-2 lifetime after beating Andy Murray 6-7, 6-2, 6-3.
“Tomas has been playing well,” Djokovic said. “He’s an established top 10 player for the last couple of years. He’s a threat to anybody on any surface. Big groundstrokes, powerful serve. He knows what it feels like to play on the big stage. He had a great match against Andy today. Hit incredible shots from baseline. You know, it’s a big challenge for me to see if I’m able to keep the focus throughout the whole match because this is the only way I can actually get a win against Tomas. We’ll see if that’s going to happen. I’ll give my best.”
Djokovic has beaten Berdych eight of nine career meetings including the last seven times they’ve played.
“It’s a semifinal, which is fantastic,” said Berdych. “But still, you know, I want to play my best tennis and I want to do well. That’s it. I just want to focus for myself and do the best on court. The last time I played him, I was just one point to beat him and finish it. Didn’t happen. So now could be another try.”
In the second semifinal, Nadal meets the surprising Gilles Simon as both were 7-5, 6-4 winners on the day. Rafa collected his 40th straight win and 14th in a row on clay after topping Stanislas Wawrinka.
“Yesterday and today I improved the level,” said Nadal who seeks an 8th Monte Carlo title. “Today was a difficult match. I had before the match big respect for this afternoon. He arrived for the match playing I think great.
“I am happy about the way that I played. I’m in the semi-finals. That’s a fantastic news for me. Just looking forward to playing a good match tomorrow.”
Simon upset countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who couldn’t keep the ball in court racking up a multitude of errors. Simon, who is 1-4 career against Nadal, looks forward to his first meeting against Rafa on clay.
“I will try to enjoy my match tomorrow,” said Simon. “Of course, it’s going to be a very tough match. I want to take advantage as much as I can of this match. I beat him once, and it was an accomplishment already. So it would be an accomplishment any time I’d do it, but even more here on clay. Even if I lose, I want to play that match the best I can.”
COURT CENTRAL start 11:15 am
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP)
Not Before 1:00 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
Not Before 3:00 PM
 G Simon (FRA) vs  R Nadal (ESP)
 M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs  M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN)
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