Novak Djokovic battles past Roger Federer's conqueror Gael Monfils

Novak Djokovic strikes a typical pose after closing out Gael Monfils in their Shanghai Masters quarterfinal.

Story highlights

  • Novak Djokovic taken to three sets by Gael Monfils of France
  • Shanghai Masters defending champion wins 6-7 6-2 6-4
  • World No.1 Rafael Nadal into semifinals beating Stanislas Wawrinka
  • Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also make last four

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and new World No.1 Rafael Nadal came through testing quarterfinal matches Friday to remain on course for a final showdown at the Shanghai Masters.

Djokovic dropped the opening set to Frenchman Gael Monfils before going through 6-7 6-2 6-4 in a grueling near two and a half hour battle while Nadal dispatched in-form Stanislas Wawrinka of 7-6 6-1 in the last match on court.

Monfils, working his way up the rankings, had beaten Roger Federer in the third round and was full of confidence from the off against his Serbian opponent.

The pair exchanged breaks in the first set, which eventually went to a tiebreak, won by former No.7 Monfils.

Read: Djokovic retains China Open crown

The 26-year-old Djokovic burst into life in the second set, winning it for the loss of just two games, and he claimed a crucial break in the decider which eventually settled the outcome, giving him his 18th straight win on Chinese soil.

Secret to beating tennis' big four
Secret to beating tennis' big four


    Secret to beating tennis' big four


Secret to beating tennis' big four 05:40
Djokovic: 'My dreams came true'
Djokovic: 'My dreams came true'


    Djokovic: 'My dreams came true'


Djokovic: 'My dreams came true' 00:43

"I was serving better as the match went on. Today was a very physical match and very intense. We played many rallies. I'm glad that I made it through," he told the official ATP Tour website.

Monfils was also satisfied with his display and is already looking forward to the 2014 campaign.

"I'm still happy. He is one of the best players in the world, and I have no shame today," he said.

Djokovic faces another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in Saturday's semifinals.

Seventh seed Tsonga, back on the ATP Tour after missing the U.S. Open with a knee injury, had earlier beaten Florian Mayer of Germany 6-2 6-3.

Read: Djokovic v Federer in Davis Cup?

Nadal's incredible season continued as he reached his 50th career Masters 1000 semifinal and improved his record against Wawrinka to a perfect 11-0.

The Swiss, battling to make the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month, made life awkward for Nadal in the opener, forcing two set points in the 12th game, both saved by the Spaniard to force a tiebreak.

Rafael Nadal's triumphant comeback
Rafael Nadal's triumphant comeback


    Rafael Nadal's triumphant comeback


Rafael Nadal's triumphant comeback 01:21
Nadal clinches 8th French Open
Nadal clinches 8th French Open


    Nadal clinches 8th French Open


Nadal clinches 8th French Open 01:28

That lasted 23 minutes with Nadal eventually clinching it 12-10 on his third set point.

It broke the resolve of Wawrinka, who was quickly broken in the second set and slipped to defeat in one hour 47 minutes.

Read: Nadal beats Djokovic to claim U.S. Open crown

Nadal said Wawrinka had really tested him in the opener and he was relieved to have got through.

"His serve was huge. He came to the court with that determination to hit every ball by taking the ball earlier so it was very difficult to stop him."

Nadal also spoke of his shock over the sudden death of female F1 driver and compatriot Maria de Villota.

"It's very difficult to say things on day like today," he said.

"All the best for her family. Very difficult to find a word because is a very sad, sad day for all of us."

Nadal will play Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro for a place in the final.

The sixth seed, fresh from winning the Japan Open title, breezed past Nicolas Almagro, the Spanish 15th seed, 6-3 6-3.

Meanwhile, Germany's Angelique Kerber clinched the eighth and final spot for the season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul when she reached the semifinals of a tournament in Linz, Austria.

Kerber beat home hope Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, 6-3 6-1.

She joins Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieska Radwanska, Li Na, Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani and Jelena Jankovic in the prestigious season closer.


    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.