Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Great rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will square off in Saturday's semifinals at the $3.5 million Monte Carlo Masters, the first clay-court Masters event of the year.
The high-flying world No. 1 Djokovic won the first eight games in drubbing eighth-seeded U.S. Open champion and fellow Monte Carlo resident Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-3 in 65 minutes, while the third-seeded former top-ranked star Nadal got past fifth-seeded fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 in 2 hours, 44 minutes on Day 6 at the famed Monte Carlo Country Club.
"The first set went completely my way," Djokovic said after spanking Cilic. "I knew he was going to start to change some things in his game so he could start to play a little bit better. But I made a crucial break at the beginning of the second. The first eight games were really fantastic. I tried to keep it up, [but] I did drop in the concentration a little bit."
Djokovic is now 12-0 lifetime versus Cilic, while Nadal is 23-6 against Ferrer, including 5-0 in Monte Carlo. Nadal beat Ferrer in the 2011 finale here.
The 2013 winner and two-time Monte Carlo runner-up Djokovic is trying to become the first-ever player to capture the first three Masters events of the year, having recently nailed down back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and Miami.
Nadal won this clay-court Monte Carlo title eight straight years from 2005-12, beating Djokovic in the 2009 and 2012 finals. Djokovic ended the Spaniard's run with a surprising victory in the 2013 title match.
The nine-time French Open king Nadal is 23-19 lifetime against Djokovic, including 2-1 in Monte Carlo, but the Serb is 13-9 in their Masters matchups.
The other semi will pit sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych against 14th-seeded French favorite Gael Monfils, as the former Wimbledon runner-up Berdych was leading fourth-seeded Milos Raonic 5-2 in the first set when the Canadian Raonic retired with a foot injury, and Monfils mauled ninth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-3.
Berdych is 5-1 lifetime against Monfils.