Djokovic sets Federer semi-final clash

Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a scare as he set a semi-final clash with Roger Federer at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Friday evening. The Serb rallied from a set down to beat in-form Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Djokovic and Federer will face off for the 34th time and third time this season on Saturday. Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 17-16. He beat Djokovic in three sets in the Dubai semi-finals, but it was the Serb who was victorious in the Indian Wells final two weeks later.

“[Federer] has been playing really good tennis in the last couple of months… much better than he did all of last season,” said Djokovic. “I’m going to have to be on top of my game.”
Djokovic had his work cut out for him against Garcia-Lopez, who was on an eight-match winning streak after capturing his third ATP World Tour title last week in Casablanca (d. Granollers).

The Spaniard played a solid first set against Djokovic, who committed 18 unforced errors and, after taking the lead, had three chances to break Djokovic at 2-2 and 3-3 in the second set. He could not convert, though, and Djokovic pounced, finding his range and reeling off nine of the last 10 games to prevail in two hours and 12 minutes.

“I changed the tactics in the middle of the second set and I managed to regroup and find the right approach,” said Djokovic. “After that it was a great performance.”

The 26-year-old Djokovic is bidding to win his fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in a row, and 19th overall. The Belgrade native closed 2013 with victories in Shanghai and Paris, also claiming the title at the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, and sealed the Indian Wells-Miami double last month.

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