(2)Rafael Nadal d. (9)Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-4 [1:50 h]
It was Simon’s first clay-court semifinal in such a big event. He had a very favorable draw earlier, but displayed brilliant disposition winning 14 games in a row (!) between 1st set against Gil and 2nd against Tipsarevic… The Frenchman confirmed his great form against Nadal, especially early on. There was 3:3 (15/40) in the 1st set on Nadal’s serve when the Spaniard hit the baseline after a long rally. At the second break chance Simon should have won the point at the net but his high-forehand volley was too soft for Nadal’s amazing defensive skills. Since that moment Nadal had a control over the progress of the match. Credit to Simon though, he had several break points (in three games) and run very similar distance (both players above 2000 meters). Nadal is unbelievable at Monte Carlo, in his last 29 matches there, he has lost just 2 sets (to Djokovic & Murray), but both 3-setters clinched convincingly anyway. Tomorrow’s final looks fascinating, Nadal for the first time since his final against Federer in 2006, won’t be a 100% favorite on Monaco’s Centre Court, having lost the last seven meetings to Djokovic.
(1)Novak Djokovic d. (6)Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 [2:42 h]
The match was played in very tough, windy conditions. It irritated Djokovic more, as well as the rustling packed crowd. The Serb led *4:2 in the 1st set, but an unusually patient in rallies Berdych was able to win four straight games and almost got the fifth in succession. There was exposed an interesting stats in the middle of that set, Berdych was constantly violating the serve rule, needing on average 32 seconds between the points while Djokovic known for frequent violation, this time was serving according to rules (23 seconds). The beginning of the 2nd set was crucial, Djokovic had saved break points in the opening and the 3rd games before established a safe 3:0* lead. He is too good recently to lose two sets in a row from a break up… In the 1st game of the decider, Berdych committed two double faults, and it helped Djokovic to break Berdych’s serve after an 8-point game, and the Czech’s spirit too. Djokovic has improved his H2H against Berdych to 9-1, winning 3 out of the last 4 matches after dropping the first set. Monte Carlo ’12 turned into a very challenging tournament in terms of the weather: on Thursday heavy rain, sunny Friday and extremely windy Saturday, Djokovic dealt with all these conditions as a true champion.