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Djokovic Battles Past Monfils To Reach Shanghai SFs

Shanghai, China

Djokovic© Getty ImagesDjokovic extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head over Monfils to 9-0

Defending champion and top seed Novak Djokovic survived a scare against flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils on Friday to reach the Shanghai Rolex Masters semi-finals.

The 26-year-old Djokovic defeated Monfils 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 and fired four aces during the match, which lasted two hours and 23 minutes. He won 80 per cent of first serve points.

"I started serving quite badly, but [I did] not [commit] many unforced errors," said Djokovic, who has now won 18 matches in a row on Chinese soil. "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."

In the opening set, Djokovic - who had been unbroken in the tournament so far - and Monfils twice exchanged breaks of serve, before the former World No. 7 clinched the tie-break 7-4. A resurgent Djokovic, who held an 8-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Monfils prior to the match, quickly captured the second set. In the decider, the Serb converted a crucial break in the seventh game.

"It was a tough match today, a tough battle," said Monfils. "I'm still happy. I haven't practiced much before here. To come here [and play] strong was good. He is one of the best players in the world, and I have no shame today… I'm already looking forward for 2014."

Monfils had been seeking his third Top 10 win of the season, following victories over Roger Federer in the third round and over Tomas Berdych at Roland Garros in May.

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The victory improves Djokovic's 2013 win-loss record to 60-9. It's the Belgrade native's seventh straight season recording at least 60 or more victories on the ATP World Tour.  

The Serb next faces Monfils's countryman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

He holds FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage of 10-5 over Tsonga, and is on an eight-match winning streak against the right-hander. Saturday's match will mark Djokovic's fourth semi-final in Shanghai in as many appearances. He lost to eventual champion Nikolay Davydenko in 2009, lost to Federer in 2010, and defeated Berdych last year en route to the title match. 

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