MONTE CARLO, Monaco (AFP) - Gael Monfils continued into uncharted territory on Friday, with the Frenchman crushing Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-3 for a career-first semi-final at tennis' Monte Carlo Masters.
The flamboyant Monfils followed up on his surprise victory against Roger Federer in the previous round, while Bulgarian ninth seed Dimitrov came onto the clay as just a shadow of the player who knocked out holder Stan Wawrinka on Thursday with the loss of just three games.
Monfils, who won in 58 minutes, will next take on Tomas Berdych, who advanced into the final four as opponent Milos Raonic retired with a right-foot injury.
Sixth seed Berdych, now 2-3 against Raonic, spent just 31 minutes on court against an opponent carrying the existing handicap into the match.
The Czech has yet to drop a set this week and was in total charge through his brief encounter with Raonic, striking 10 winners and breaking twice.
Top seed Novak Djokovic was cruising against Croatia's US Open champion Marin Cilic, while eight-time champion Rafael Nadal had an all-Spanish battle with fifth seed David Ferrer to close out quarter-final play.
Prior to this week, the brilliant, yet erratic, Monfils had not been past the third round at the Country Club, with his record at the venue only now just level at 8-8.
"I had fun on the court and really tried to keep my concentration," said the 18th-ranked winner. "But I've lost all but one match to Berdych.
"He's playing very well right now and I have to reach my best on court."
Monfils stands 1-5 against Berdych, who won his 26th match of the season when Raonic retired.
The Canadian had been carrying the injury all week but somehow got through his Thursday match against Tommy Robredo.
Berdych will be playing in his 18th semi-final at the Masters 1000 level; he also played Monte Carlo semis in 2007 (lost to Nadal) and 2012 (lost to Djokovic).