Rafael Nadal did not let Novak Djokovic make it to the finals of the 2015 Monte Carlo Masters easily as the Spaniard tested the Serb early in the match. This puts Djokovic on a sixteen match winning streak and he will face Tomas Berdych in the finals where is is one step closer to winning his second title at this Open.
“I did have a slower start than he did in the match,” admitted Djokovic. “He started very aggressive, playing good, serving well, having a break point for a double break. I played a good point there. I won a very important game not to allow him to have the advantage of 3-0.
“I started to get into the rhythm, started to tactically play the way I intended from the beginning. It was a fight. I think the 3-all game in both sets, they were the decisive moments in the match. I managed to win those in both sets.
“When you get to play somebody who has won so many times, so many matches on clay courts, he’s no doubt the best player that ever played the game on this surface, you got to use the opportunities. You have to be able to step in. This is the only way I was going to win against him or any other match that I play against him, especially on this surface, is to be aggressive and play my style of the game. I was aware of that.
“I’m just very pleased with the performance, honestly. Other than the first three games that I was getting into the match, it was a really, really solid performance.”
Djokovic, bidding to win a third Masters title in a row, lost the first two games of the match but fought back to triumph 6-3 6-3 on the clay.
It was the 43rd meeting between the pair with Nadal – who has slipped to world number five – 23-20 ahead.
Djokovic, 27, has lost only two matches this year.
With Prince Albert of Monaco in the crowd, Nadal and Djokovic put on a high-class semi-final.
But, ultimately, the injury-plagued Spaniard lacked the consistency to overcome the rampant Serb.
Nadal, meanwhile, who won here every year from 2005-12, was looking to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final since blasting to the title match in Rome 11 months ago (l. to Djokovic). The Spaniard’s loss to nemesis Djokovic here in the 2013 final brought an end to his 81-match winning streak on clay in the month of April and his 46 consecutive wins at this event.
“I think I played well in moments,” said Nadal. “I was able to play at the right level for moments to compete against a very, very tough player, the best player of the world like Novak is today. But I got a little tired. Then when you get a little bit tired, you play a little bit shorter. Then it is impossible against him.
“In general, I think I was not that far. For moments I was playing at a very high level. I think he played great. I just congratulate him for the way that he’s playing, the way that he’s winning almost every match of the year.”
The second set hinged on an 11-minute game at 3-3, with Nadal surrendering a 40-0 lead to suffer what proved to be the vital break.
“I’m very happy with how I played against such a tough opponent,” said Djokovic. “Rafa is the all-time best on the clay, it was not an easy match.
“I played well, it was a relief to get this win. There was a lot of tension, it was tough to keep it all under control.
“I know the final with Tomas will be a different kind of match, but I’ll do my best to recover and get ready.”
Earlier, sixth seed Berdych completed a 6-1 6-4 victory over Gael Monfils of France.
Monfils had accounted for Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov earlier in the tournament, but Berdych won the first set in just 23 minutes.
The Czech broke twice at the start of the second set to reach his first Masters series final since losing to Federer in Madrid three years ago.