MONACO — Rafael Nadal edged Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 Friday to win his 45th straight match at the Monte Carlo Masters and reach the semifinals.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic had less trouble with Jarkko Nieminen, beating the Finnish veteran 6-4, 6-3. Djokovic won despite a balky right ankle, which the Serb twisted two weeks ago a during Davis Cup match against the United States.
"I didn't feel the ankle was bothering me today," Djokovic said. "We played a lot of long rallies. I'm really glad things are going in the right direction."
In the semifinal, he'll face unseeded Fabio Fognini, who defeated Richard Gasquet 7-6 (0), 6-2.
Nadal will meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The Spaniard dropped only his third set in his last five tournaments here, the previous times against Andy Murray in the 2011 semifinals and Djokovic in the 2009 final. He was under pressure at 30-30 in the eighth game of the final set before hitting a crucial serve.
"I know that when you have these tough matches, is decisive to keep fighting," Nadal said. "If you keep fighting, you will lose some, but you will have a chance to win a lot of ones."
The eight-time defending champion sealed victory on his second match point with an ace, after Dimitrov saved the first one with a forehand winner of astonishing power from the back of the court. It was even more impressive because he was struggling with a leg cramp.