Novak Djokovic breaks Rafael Nadal record after ‘ugly’ Monte Carlo Masters victory

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Novak Djokovic made more history on Friday as his quarter-final victory over Alex de Minaur at the Monte Carlo Masters saw him break a record previously held by Rafael Nadal. 

In a scrappy contest that ebbed and flowed, Djokovic was far from his best but still had more than enough to down the Australian, who had won their last meeting at the United Cup in January.

Despite a second set that saw him get broken three times, the world No 1 sealed a 7-5 6-4 victory to progress to the last four at the Country Club.

It is the first time since 2015 that Djokovic has made it to the last four at the event – which he won in 2013 and 2015 – and he made Monte Carlo and Masters 1000 history by doing so.

Djokovic is now the oldest semi-finalist in the history of the event but, more significantly, now has an incredible 77 semi-finals at Masters 1000 level to his name.

That breaks the all-time record of 76 that he had jointly held with Rafael Nadal up until this point, having drawn level with the Spaniard on his way to winning the Paris Masters last year.

It was by no means a pretty match from Djokovic – who hit 26 unforced errors, compared to only 13 winners – and he admitted there was some relief about finally returning to the last four in Monte Carlo after a nine-year absence.

“It was tough for both of us, I guess,” said the Serbian in his on-court interview.

“He’s one of the quickest players on tour, he gets a lot of balls back that 99% of the other players don’t. He did surprise me with several passing shots in the second set, particularly when I was up a break.

“He said at the net that it was ugly. In the second set, I think it was. We didn’t really play at a high level, we made a lot of unforced errors, both him and I.

“There were a lot of consecutive breaks of serve, which is kind of expected for clay – but maybe not this many. A win is a win, I’m glad to go through.

“I’m very happy to be back in the semis. It’s been a while and I love this tournament. I know this club very well, I’ve been training for many years here.

“The last seven, eight years has been quite tough for me to win two or three matches consecutively, but here we are – another semis and I look forward to it.”

It is a first semi-final on tour for Djokovic since the Australian Open, where he lost to eventual champion Jannik Sinner.

Djokovic and the Italian, the top two seeds in Monte Carlo, are still primed to face off in the final after Sinner won his last eight encounter against Holger Rune to set up a semi-final against 12th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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