Novak Djokovic did not serve his best against Gael Monfils at the Rogers Cup on Saturday, but the outcome was never in doubt, as the Serbian marched to a 6-3, 6-2 semi-final triumph against the Frenchman in 73 minutes. With the loss, Monfils fell to 0-12 against Djokovic in the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry despite the World No. 1 firing one ace and six double-faults.
“You do have a certain mental comfort knowing that you have had plenty of success against your opponent. Nevertheless, that is not a certainty. That's not a guarantee that you can win the match. Actually, it actually makes him more eager to come out and play his best tennis," Djokovic said. “I’ve been working on my serve a lot the last couple of years, and I think especially on the second serve it has gave me an advantage, more depth on the second serve and so forth. In this tournament it is not working very well but in general in past couple of years it has served me very well."
Djokovic, who had overcome a stern test against Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals on Friday, found the margin of victory with flawless play from the baseline. The three-time Rogers Cup champion (2007, 2011-12) aimed to extend rallies and covered the court so well that the explosive Monfils, who beat hometown hero Milos Raonic the previous night, was unable to make use of his creativity. The 2016 Citi Open champion won only 28 per cent of second-serve points and dropped serve four times before succumbing.
“I guess he missed a few shots at the beginning. I got some opportunities and I took them,” said Monfils, who secured the first break of serve of the match before Djokovic took over. “And then suddenly he was not missing anymore. He was going for his shots and being much better in the rallies. He became super solid. When Novak is playing like that, it's very tough to beat him.”
The top player in the Emirates ATP Rankings continued his domination at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. He has now reached the final in 14 of his past 15 appearances and is aiming for an 11th title in that span. On Sunday, he will be playing for a record 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
In the final, Djokovic will face Kei Nishikori, who won in straight sets against Stan Wawrinka earlier in the day. Djokovic is 9-2 at the tour-level against the Japanese star and is riding an eight-match winning streak over the No. 3 seed.