For the first time this week Novak Djokovic needed only two sets to triumph at the Rome Masters, beating Spain’s David Ferrer 6-4 6-4 as he reached the final to close in on a 24th Masters 1000 title.
The world number one, who is chasing a fourth title in the event, next meets Roger Federer who knocked out fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4 6-2.
In the women’s tournament there was better fortune for a Spanish player with Carla Suarez Navarro defeating Romania’s Simona Halep 2-6 6-3 7-5 to reach her ninth career final.
Suarez Navarro next faces twice Rome champion Maria Sharapova who downed Russian qualifier Daria Gavrilova 7-5 6-3.
Djokovic’s winning streak now stands at 21 matches but he has been made to work hard this week with close-fought victories over Nicolas Almagro, Thomaz Bellucci and Kei Nishikori.
He seemed to move up a level against Ferrer with a clinical display. The top seed needed two breaks of serve to clinch a ninth consecutive win over the Spaniard.
“I played the best match of the week,” Djokovic told Sky Sports Italia. “I’m satisfied with the way I played and happy to be in another final in Rome.”
Djokovic’s only frustration was the state of the Centrale court and he repeatedly complained about the condition of the clay.
“That’s the one thing I could have handled better. I should’ve been less nervous as there was nothing I could do about the court,” he said.
Federer was broken in his first service game but, after falling 3-0 down, he completely dominated his Davis Cup team mate.
“I was happy with the way I responded after being down,” he said. “Obviously Stan can play much better that this.”
Federer will be playing his fourth final in Rome, one of two Masters 1000 tournaments he has never won, Monte Carlo being the other.
Sharapova had to work extremely hard to defeat fellow Russian Gavrilova who left the court after the 11th game for treatment to an abdominal muscle injury and was clearly hampered on her return.
“She was obviously affected by it when serving,” Sharapova said. “But once you got into the rallies she moved and defended very well.”
Suarez Navarro is this year’s form player with 31 wins but she was two points away from losing in the 10th game of the final set before turning the tide.