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Monte Carlo Semis Preview: Djokovic vs. Verdasco

Top seed Novak Djokovic is a victory away from a second consecutive final at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. Standing in his way is Fernando Verdasco, who is through to his first ever semis at a Masters Series event.

The winner of this match now knows he will face five-time defending champion, Rafael Nadal in the final as the Spaniard continued his dominance in Monaco, improving to 31 straight wins at the event when he beat Ferrer 6-2, 6-3 earlier today.

That Nadal is through to the final is important to note because it will play on these players psychologically. Djokovic has more experience (and success) than Verdasco at this level in general but when it comes to losing to Nadal, they share that experience equally.

Head-to-head, Verdasco trails 2-5 lifetime against Nole. Representative is a string of a five consecutive losses to the Serbian since the 2007 French Open.The last time Verdasco beat Djokovic was in 2006 at the Masters Series event in Hamburg.

The market trend surely favours Djokovic in this match because he is the only player with a credible shot against Nadal in the finale should he earn that spot. Last year, Djokovic was second only to Nadal on clay, and gave him a serious run for his money. A shot against Nadal this Sunday would be bittesweet for Nole and his camp indeed.

But should Verdasco be dismissed out of hand, just because he hasn't experience or much success at this level. Let us not talk about what he doesn't have for a moment but what he does have, and that is serious clay court skills. With the skills he has he should be able to make an impression in this match. He has one of the best forehand shots in the world, that should he unleash freely against Nole would give us a battle royale for the final spot.

Unfortunately, where Verdasco is concerned and what takes the shine off his price in the market is somewhat suspect mental faculties. He can unravel something awful in a match. If he wants to beat Djokovic he cannot afford such a luxury.

For Verdasco to beat Djokovic he would have to really up the ante and tap into the form we saw him display at the 2009 Aussie Open. If he can do that, he certainly can beat Djokovic. Question is can he bring it. I am not so sure. The experience and success Djokovic has is a huge case for his cause and would give him the edge should push come to shove.

Anything is possible though and bearing in mind Djokovic hasn't been exactly awe-inspiring this season (yet) maybe HE is for the taking.

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