Monaco: Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych overwhelmed Gael Monfis 6-1, 6-4 Saturday to reach the final of the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time.
Berdych immediately took control from the baseline and Monfils struggled to cope with the fast pace imposed by the big-hitting Czech.
Monfils won just 11 points in a lopsided first set before the Frenchman changed his strategy, using more sliced shots to break up his opponent's rhythm.
The move paid off early in the second set when Monfils broke back to level at 1-1 as Berdych made two forehand errors.
Monfils failed to build on the momentum, though, dropping his next service game as his hopes of becoming the first French player in 15 years to make the final at the Country Club vanished.
"It's always difficult when I'm up against Tomas, I can't find the proper way to play him," said the 14th-seeded Monfils after his sixth loss in seven matches against the Czech. "Hopefully I'll find the solution one day."
Monfils, who was a wild-card entry this week after recovering from a hip injury sooner than expected, added that his poor percentage on his first serve was a decisive factor.
"But even when I served well, he was retuning hard and deep," Monfils said. "He reads my serve very well."
Chasing a second Masters title 10 years after he made his breakthrough at the Paris Masters, Berdych will face either Rafael Nadal or top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the final.
After dictating from the baseline in the first set, he was able to raise his game when Monfils looked capable of coming back. He fended off two consecutive break points in the sixth game of second set with authority, following up two big serves with powerful forehands.
Berdych hit 21 winners and sealed his win in 67 minutes with a forehand down the line.
The Czech has been in excellent form this year, reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and finishing runner-up in Doha and Rotterdam.