Monte Carlo Masters: Novak Djokovic survives difficult test while Andy Murray falters

NOVAK DJOKOVIC dropped serve four times before beating Robin Haase 6-4, 6-2 to reach the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals last night, saying he had thought about pulling out of the event following his grandfather’s death.

Playing the day after his grandfather died, the top-ranked Djokovic looked distracted at times against Haase. He missed a first chance to serve out for the match at 5-1 before breaking the unseeded Dutchman for the seventh time to seal victory.

The win kept Djokovic on course for a final against seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal, who overcame a slight blip in the first set before beating Stanislas Wawrinka 7-5, 6-4 for his 40th straight win at Monte Carlo. “Today was a difficult match. I’m happy about the way that I played,” said Nadal, who next faces Gilles Simon of France.

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The ninth-seeded Simon beat No. 4 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 6-4 in an all-French match.

Djokovic next plays sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who took advantage of a wayward performance from Scotland’s Andy Murray to win 6-7 (7-4), 6-2, 6-3.

Murray had no excuses for losing, having not even completed a set in getting past Julien Benneteau while Berdych was taken to three sets by Kei Nishikori.

“He played very, very well,” Murray said. “Every time I lose a match, I get asked, ‘What did you do wrong?’ Sometimes the guy plays well.”