ROME: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will clash for the 25th time in Saturday’s Rome Masters semi-finals while Rafael Nadal also progressed, ensuring the big three all made the last four of this crucial French Open warm-up.
Defending champion Djokovic, the top seed, fought through the first set, before racing away in the second to beat French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 6-1.
Federer, fresh from his Madrid Masters triumph last weekend, followed the script with a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Italian Andreas Seppi in just 53 minutes, with the Swiss third seed winning 14 of the first 15 points.
Second seed Nadal, meanwhile, got the better of Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych, grinding out a 6-4, 7-5 win and will meet fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.
“It was a very good match for me. From the start I played aggressive,” said Federer.
“The goals have to be the same against Djokovic — take it to him and play my game.”
Rome is one of the few big events Federer has not won, losing finals in 2003 and 2006.
But the Swiss star, who hasn’t played Djokovic since his marathon US Open semi-final defeat last year, showed his clay game is nearing perfection, just a week before the start of the French Open.
Djokovic was tested early on by Tsonga in a first set filled with five breaks of serve. But after winning the opener in nearly an hour, Tsonga’s defences collapsed as the top seed came home for his 29th win of the season.
“In the second set I played one of the best sets on clay this year,” said Serb star Djokovic.
“This is encouraging for the challenges ahead. With Roland Garros coming, I’m playing and feeling better in every match.”