Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will face each other for a place in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters, after beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga respectively in the quarter-finals.
Saturday’s match will be the 34th time the Serbian and the Swiss will have faced off against each other, with Federer currently holding the head-to-head edge over his opponent 17-16, though they are tied at three wins apiece from their six meetings on clay.
It wasn’t plain sailing for either player on Friday, as both were forced to come back to win from a set down.
Federer, who came up against Tsonga for the first time on clay since losing to the Frenchman in the quarter-finals of the French Open last year, lost the first set 6-2, and then found himself just two points from defeat at 6-5 and 0-30 down in the second set.
But the 17-time Grand slam winner dug in to take the second set to a tie-break, which he edged 8-6, before getting an early break in the second game of the third set on his way to winning it 6-1.
It was then Djokovic’s turn to book his place in the last four, and he would have expected a more comfortable victory over his Spanish opponent, after dropping just two games in his opening two matches of the tournament.
But Garcia-Lopez, who knocked out fifth seed Tomas Berdych in a surprise win on Thursday, carried over his confidence from that triumph to take the first set 6-4.
The world number 38 then had chances to break Djokovic’s serve at 2-2 and 3-3 in the second set, but it was the Serbian who rallied to victory as the light faded and the floodlights were turned on, winning nine of the last ten games to win the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Djokovic has won the previous two Masters Series tournaments this year in Indian Wells and Miami, and he is also the reigning champion in Monte Carlo, having ended Rafael Nadal’s streak of eight consecutive tournament wins there in the 2013 final.
The world number two was successful against Federer the last time they met, which was in the final in Indian Wells, and this will be their first match on clay since Djokovic defeated Federer in straight sets in the semi-finals of the French Open in 2012.
The winner of the semi-final will go on to play either Stanislas Wawrinka or David Ferrer in the final, after Ferrer knocked out world number one Nadal and Wawrinka beat Canadian Milos Raonic on Friday, and that match is scheduled first on Court Central before Djokovic and Federer take to the court.
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