Djokovic, Nadal reach final four in Monte Carlo

Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (Sports Network) - World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and eight-time reigning champion Rafael Nadal secured berths in the semifinals at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The two-time Monte Carlo runner-up Djokovic rolled past veteran Finnish left- hander Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-3, while the third-seeded former No. 1 Nadal barely won his 45th straight match on the red clay at the Monte Carlo Country Club by holding off game Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in one of the Spaniard's biggest scares here in nine years. Nadal advanced in 2 hours, 8 minutes against the man they call "Baby Fed."

"I know that when you have these tough matches, it is decisive to keep fighting," Nadal said. "If you keep fighting, you will lose some ones, but you will have a chance to win a lot of ones, too.

"I gave that fight. Finally he had his chance, and I had my one, and I converted. That's it. I think I played better the last couple of games. Obviously I'm trying to find better rhythm all the time. In my opinion, I did it in the end. It was great."

Dimitrov was slowed by some leg cramps in the deciding set on Day 6.

"It's a tough loss," said Dimitrov. "Of course, I think I gave everything I had today. I must say, all the credit to him. He's an extraordinary player, extraordinary fighter. Today he obviously showed why he's the best not only on that surface, I believe, but he's one of the best out there.

"Even though I lost the first set, I didn't lose my composure on court, and that helped me win the second. Eventually when the third started, I felt quite comfortable playing. I actually started rallying with him much more from the baseline, which I think I shouldn't have done that too much. It's a good lesson to learn."

The Australian Open champion Djokovic will meet scrappy Italian Fabio Fognini on Saturday, while the seven-time French Open titlist Nadal will take on sixth-seeded French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga seeking an 18th straight overall singles victory.

This prestigious event dates all the way back to 1897 and has been captured eight years running by the great Nadal, who defeated Djokovic in last year's final. Last year's title tilt also marked a rematch of the 2009 Monte Carlo championship match, which was also won by Nadal.

Nadal, who is now 47-1 lifetime at this event, owns a record 22 Masters titles overall.

Meanwhile, the former Aussie Open runner-up Tsonga fought back to beat 13th- seeded Swiss slugger Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Fognini ousted seventh-seeded French star Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-0), 6-2 on Friday.

Tsonga is looking forward to his match with the mighty Nadal.

"I have everything to win and nothing to lose," the Frenchman said.

The 2013 Monte Carlo champion will collect $655,000.