After the surprise elimination of Roger Federer at the Monte Carlo Masters event yesterday, the remaining top seeds of Novak Djokovic (1) and Rafael Nadal (3) made it safely through to the semi-final stages today. Djokovic was a comfortable straight-sets winner over Marin Cilic, while Nadal had to dig far deeper against his Spanish compatriot David Ferrer before coming through in three sets. The main seeds will face each other in the semi-finals, which should be an intriguing pointer as to how well the Serb's game is progressing on clay. The remaining semi-finalists were confirmed as Tomas Berdych and Gael Monfils.

Clay courts have not always provided Djokovic with his best Tennis moments during his career, so much so that he has made it clear that his main ambition this season is to claim the French Open for the very first time, after twice previously losing in the final, in order to complete his personal Grand Slam. Clearly then a repeat of his 2013 success in Monte Carlo on clay would provide him with a major boost in that quest and the signs look good so far. The world number one had far too much quality for Croatia's Marin Cilic in their last-eight tie, 'bagelling' him 6-0 in the first set and then cruising through to the next round with a 6-3 success in the next set.

Nadal has often utilised the Monte Carlo event as a launch pad for his main clay court season ambitions, having claimed the title every year between 2005 and 2012.

Commonly he has then replicated the feat at the French Open later in the season (the only exception being 2009). Success this year would provide much needed confidence to a player who seems to be experiencing some doubts about his ability and his physical condition in recent months. He would have been delighted to come through a stern test against Ferrer in the quarter-finals then, a man he knows well and one who has already enjoyed title winning success this year.

The pair shared the first two sets before Nadal stamped his authority on the decisive third set to clinch the match 6-4 5-7 6-2.

Joining the two favourites in the last-four will be Federer's conqueror Monfils from France, who took just 58 minutes to defeat the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-1 6-3 in the quarter-finals. The number 14 seed is the lowest ranked of the final four players left to do battle for the title and will next face the sixth-seeded Berdych, after he benefited from the early retirement of Milos Raonic (seeded four) after little more than 30 minutes of play in their match. The Canadian was carrying an injury to his right foot into the last-eight tussle and decided that he could not play on in the first set, with the score 5-2 in the Czech's favour at the time.