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Djokovic charges into Monaco final

WORLD No. 3 Novak Djokovic overcame a sluggish start to beat Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 yesterday and reach the Monte Carlo Masters final.

The Serb will meet either world No. 1 Rafael Nadal of Spain or British fourth seed Andy Murray in today's final.

The 13th-seeded Wawrinka, who had upset fellow Swiss and three-time Monte Carlo finalist Roger Federer in the third round, made the better start but gradually ran out of steam.

Wawrinka staved off four break points before snatching Djokovic's serve in the ninth game at the fourth attempt. After a double fault, he regained composure to wrap up the opening set when Djokovic netted a backhand slice.

The Serb put more pressure on Wawrinka in the second set, opening a 5-0 lead.

He levelled the match easily after making only five unforced errors and pocketing seven of his 27 points at the net.

Djokovic was caught snoozing at the beginning of the decider, Wawrinka breaking to move 2-0 up. But the 2007 Australian Open champion started to dictate play from the baseline, finishing off the points with charges to the net.

Wawrinka staved off a first break point with a service winner, but another unforced error on his backhand put Djokovic back in contention.

The Serb tightened his grip, breaking again with a stunning forehand winner in a 10-minute fifth game.

He set up two match points on Wawrinka's serve at 5-3 when, off balance, he fired a crosscourt backhand winner, but the Swiss shrugged them off. On the third, though, Djokovic ended Wawrinka's resistance with a forehand winner.

In Barcelona, Francesca Schiavone of Italy defeated Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5 on Friday to reach the semifinals of the Barcelona Open.

Play suspended

Roberta Vinci of Italy also advanced after beating Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus 6-3, 6-3 before rain suspended play for the day.

Sixth-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia led 6-1, 1-2 against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain when play on the clay court was called off.

The match was to be played late yesterday, followed by fifth-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain taking on Germany's Tatjana Malek in the last quarterfinal.

In Charleston, South Carolina, top-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia advanced to the Family Circle Cup semifinals when Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova quit in the second set on Friday because of a leg injury.

Dementieva next meets fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who routed Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano 6-2, 6-0.

German Sabine Lisicki, the 16th-seed who ousted Venus Williams on Thursday, advanced with an easy 6-4, 6-0 victory over unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina.

She will face sixth-seed Marion Bartoli of France, who easily eliminated Hungary's Melinda Czink, 6-4, 6-1.

Dementieva won the first set 6-4, and was up 1-0 in the second against Cibulkova in a match featuring long baseline rallies. Cibulkova, seeded seventh, played with her left thigh wrapped and had it rewrapped between sets before retiring. She waved to the crowd as she walked off the green clay.

A tour spokesman said that Cibulkova's leg had been wrapped because of a left adductor, or groin, injury.

Cibulkova led 4-3 in the first set before Dementieva won three straight games, surrendering only three points. She is 3-1 against Cibulkova.


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