Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal to reach Monte Carlo Open final

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal
Djokovic and Nadal were meeting for the first time since the 2014 French Open final

In-form world number one Novak Djokovic overcame a battling Rafael Nadal to set up a meeting with Tomas Berdych in the final of the Monte Carlo Open.

Djokovic, bidding to win a third Masters title in a row, lost the first two games of the match but fought back to triumph 6-3 6-3 on the clay.

It was the 43rd meeting between the pair with Nadal - who has slipped to world number five - 23-20 ahead.

Djokovic, 27, has lost only two matches this year.

With Prince Albert of Monaco in the crowd, Nadal and Djokovic put on a high-class semi-final.

But, ultimately, the injury-plagued Spaniard lacked the consistency to overcome the rampant Serb.

The second set hinged on an 11-minute game at 3-3, with Nadal surrendering a 40-0 lead to suffer what proved to be the vital break.

Recent Monte Carlo Masters champions
2014: Stan Wawrinka (Swi) beat Roger Federer (Swi) 4-6 7-6 6-2
2013: Novak Djokovic (Ser) beat Rafael Nadal (Sp) 6-2 7-6
2012: Rafael Nadal (Sp) beat Novak Djokovic (Ser) 6-3 6-1
2011: Rafael Nadal (Sp) beat David Ferrer (Sp) 6-4 7-5
2010: Rafael Nadal (Sp) beat Fernando Verdasco (Sp) 6-0 6-1

"I'm very happy with how I played against such a tough opponent," said Djokovic. "Rafa is the all-time best on the clay, it was not an easy match.

"I played well, it was a relief to get this win. There was a lot of tension, it was tough to keep it all under control.

"I know the final with Tomas will be a different kind of match, but I'll do my best to recover and get ready."

Earlier, sixth seed Berdych completed a 6-1 6-4 victory over Gael Monfils of France.

Monfils had accounted for Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov earlier in the tournament, but Berdych won the first set in just 23 minutes.

The Czech broke twice at the start of the second set to reach his first Masters series final since losing to Federer in Madrid three years ago.

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