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.
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.
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"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.
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.
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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.
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.