World number one Novak Djokovic moved into the semi-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open after holding off a brave second set effort from Spain's David Ferrer to win 6-2 7-6 on Thursday.
Djokovic will face Argentine Juan Monaco for a place in the final after he celebrated his 28th birthday with a 6-1 6-3 win over American Mardy Fish on Thursday. Serbian Djokovic crusied through the first set in just 32 minutes and broke Ferrer's first serve of the second set but any notion of a swift and easy win quickly vanished.
Ferrer broke back straight away and then held his own in the set before Djokovic, making his opponent scurry around the baseline, broke to go 5-4 up.
Even then, the Spaniard found the resolve to break back and force the game into a tie-break but, true to form, Djokovic raised his game a notch and wrapped it up 7-1 to seal the win.
"David is a great competitor in every sense and I really wanted to get it done in straight sets because physically he is always there," said Djokovic.
Monaco, who beat American Andy Roddick in the previous round, will head into Friday's semi-final in confident mood.
The 21st seed won 71% of his first serve points and proved too much for eighth seed Fish, who did not cause problems for his opponent until breaking to go 3-3 in the second set.
But Monaco closed out the match in one hour and 22 minutes and was clearly delighted to have given himself a chance of reaching what would be the biggest final of his career.
"I meant every shot that I played, I did. It was a perfect match for me," said Monaco, who has won four ATP Tour events. "It was unbelievable. That was the way to celebrate my birthday, playing like this. I feel proud and very happy."
Fish agreed that Monaco had been too much for him to handle on the day.
"He did a lot of things well and I think more than anything else, he shrunk the court extremely well with his movement and that's why I think you saw a ton of errors from me," said Fish.
"I was pressing a lot just because he wasn't giving me anything. He wasn't giving me any errors. He made one error in the first set and served 98 percent. That's tough to beat."
Friday's other semi-final features Britain's Andy Murray against Rafa Nadal.