ROME (AFP) - Serbia's Novak Djokovic swept David Ferrer aside in straight sets on Saturday to qualify for the final of the Italian Open where he will meet either Stan Wawrinka or Roger Federer.
Djokovic, the defending champion, had warned of the danger of Ferrer on Friday after his quarter-final victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori.
But Ferrer, the Spanish seventh seed and renowned clay court specialist, was broken early in the opening set as Djokovic raced to seal the set 6-4.
Ferrer battled hard to break Djokovic's service in a thrilling sixth game of the second set where advantage switched hands several times before the Spaniard sent a backhand return out.
Ferrer had never made the Italian Open final and his chances appeared to dip soon after those efforts.
The Spaniard lost focus and precision and eventually Djokovic earned the break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, the Serbian sealing the match with his next service game.
The win keeps Djokovic on track for his fourth Rome title, having won his third in the space of six years in 2014 when he stopped Rafael Nadal from winning an eighth crown in the Italian capital.
Nadal's bid to make amends this time round was stopped at the quarter-final stage by Wawrinka on Friday, the 30-year-old from Lausanne beating the Spaniard for the first time ever on the surface.
Federer is a three-time finalist at the Italian Open but the Swiss great has been beaten every time, once by Felix Mantilla and twice by Nadal.