Monte Carlo Masters: Novak Djokovic beats Jarkko Nieminen to reach semi-finals
Novak Djokovic took his place in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals after seeing off Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-3.
Last Updated: 19/04/13 7:11pm
There were whispers ahead of the match that Djokovic's ankle injury - sustained on Davis Cup duty last week - had deteriorated, but the Serb showed precious little sign of that once the action was underway.
He did actually suffer the first break of serve as Nieminen broke through to love in the second game, but he responded in kind straight away to get himself back on terms.
Nieminen certainly gave the top seed plenty to think about as he repeatedly went for broke on his groundstrokes with plenty of success, but rather predictably it was Djokovic who got the crucial break in the ninth game with a superbly-angled forehand winner before serving out for the set.
Two more quick breaks at the start of the second set looked to have killed the contest as Djokovic raced 3-0 ahead, but Nieminen reclaimed one of them to give himself renewed hope.
But it was to prove a forlorn hope as Djokovic again raised his level to maintain control and, with dark clouds gathering overhead, he finished off his opponent with yet another break to secure a 6-4 6-3 win and a last-four showdown with Fabio Fognini.
Fognini run continues
Italy's Fognini reached his first-ever Masters 1000 semi-final as he beat Richard Gasquet in straight sets on Friday.
Fognini upset fourth seed Tomas Berdych on Thursday and was equally impressive as he took care of Gasquet, defeating the Frenchman 7-6 (7/0) 6-2.
The Italian served notice of his intentions by breaking his opponent in the first game of the match, but that merely set the tone for a topsy-turvy opening that saw four breaks of serve in the first six games.
Things settled own thereafter and the set would eventually be decided by a tie-break which Fognini totally dominated, racing through it without dropping a point to get his nose in front.
Roared on by a crowd full of Italians, Fognini played with a swagger throughout the second set and made the decisive move when he broke in the sixth game after taking the third of three break points.
He wrapped up victory with another break of the Gasquet serve, closing out the match as his opponent netted with a backhand.
"I'm really happy, I played an incredible match against another massive player," a delighted Fognini told Sky Sports afterwards.