Novak Djokovic produced an outstanding performance to defeat third seed and eight-time former champion Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters blockbuster semi-final in one hour and 37 minutes.
The world no.1 started slowly, falling behind a break for a 0-2 deficit in the opening set, but quickly found his rhythm to win six of the next seven games for 6-3 in 43 minutes.
Nole rode the momentum to break twice in the second set, in the seventh and ninth games, sealing his 20th victory in 43 meetings with the Spaniard and 29th match win in 2015.
“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 will look to become the first player to win the opening three Masters 1000 titles of the year when he takes on Tomas Berdych (18-2) in Sunday’s title match (14:30 CET). The sixth-seeded Czech beat Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-4 in the first semi-final.
Nadal about Nole: “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.