World number one Novak Djokovic set up a Monte Carlo Masters final clash against eight-times defending champion Rafael Nadal after a 6-2 6-1 demolition of Fabio Fognini. Djokovic, who also reached the Monte Carlo Masters final in 2009 and 2012, had far too much for Fognini, playing in his first Masters series final, and booked his place in the championship match in just 52 minutes.
Djokovic, who has branded Nadal "the ultimate challenge on clay", will hope to improve on his previous Monte Carlo finals against Nadal. He was beaten 6-3 6-1 in the final last year and in three sets in 2009.
Italian showman Fognini played some crowd-pleasing winners against Djokovic but was no match for the ruthless Serb who was in no mood to mess around on the centre court.
The 32nd-ranked Italian, who has enjoyed a huge support this week at a stadium located just kilometres away from his home, offered little fight and was booed off court after only 50 minutes by the restless crowd.
Djokovic seems to have put his injury problem - he twisted his ankle on Davis Cup duty with Serbia a fortnight ago - behind him.
He will then face Nadal who looked to be on track for a demolition win when he served for the match at 6-3 5-1 but Tsonga, despite facing triple match point in the next game, stormed back into the match with four straight games.
In the end, however, Nadal proved too strong for the Frenchman, sealing his 46th consecutive win in Monte Carlo with a cross court forehand winner in the tie-break to finish the game 6-3, 7-6(3).
Now only world number one Novak Djokovic stands in Nadal's way as he bids for that ninth Monte Carlo title. The final will give a further measure of Nadal's physical power as he eyes the French Open, especially as the Serb is showing no obvious signs of being worried by the ankle he twisted while on Davis Cup duty two weeks ago.
"It's fantastic to be in a fifth final in a row after seven months out," Nadal said. "Novak always pushes you to the limits."