Monte-Carlo Masters: Djokovic prevails over De Minaur in tight clash, reaches semis

Novak Djokovic continued his brilliant run as he moved to within just two wins of completing his third sweep of all nine ATP Masters 1000 titles on Friday, advancing to the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters for the first time since triumphing in 2015.

In a tight clash against Australian Alex de Minaur, the World No. 1 was not at his fluid best but found the required level to earn a 7-5, 6-4 win. With his two-hour, four-minute victory, the Serbian avenged his recent defeat in the United Cup to the Australian to improve to 2-1 in the pair’s ATP head-to-head series.

The 36-year-old, who on Sunday became the oldest No. 1 in ATP Rankings history, is chasing a record-extending 41st ATP Masters 1000 crown this week. Should he lift the trophy, it would mark the top seed’s third sweep of all nine Masters 1000 tournaments.

In a tight clash on clay, Djokovic looked breathless at times on Court Rainier III, frequently slumping over after lengthy exchanges. However, as has been the way in his career, the top seed battled on and capitalised on errors from De Minaur on key points to eventually prevail.

The Australian committed five unforced errors when serving to stay in the first set at 5-6. Neither player could hold serve consistently in the second set, with seven breaks of serve in the set. Djokovic gained the decisive break in the 10th game to eventually prevail.

The World No. 1 has triumphed in Monte-Carlo in 2013 and 2015, but before this week had not gone past the quarterfinal stage since 2015. He will continue the quest for his first title of the year when he meets Frenchman Ugo Humbert or Norwegian Casper Ruud in the last four on Saturday.

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