World number two Novak Djokovic settled an old score with a childhood rival when he beat Slovenian Blaz Kavcic 6-3, 6-2 on Friday to reach the Serbia Open semi-finals.
The 23-year old Serb, who will meet compatriot and close friend Janko Tipsarevic on Saturday for a berth in Sunday's final, showed some nerves in the second set before he stretched his unbeaten run in 2011 to 26 matches.
Djokovic was 4-1 up when the umpire ordered play to continue despite heavy rain and facing a break point, the home favourite sat down and waited for the slippery lines to be mopped up before he dropped his serve.
But it was only a temporary blip as the winner of this year's Australian Open, Dubai Championships and Master series events in Miami and Indian Wells regained his composure to seal the match in 1 hour 25 minutes.
"I remember very well losing to Kavcic 10 years ago in an under-14 tournament, I haven't forgotten the result either and I had a score to settle here today," Djokovic said with a wry smile in a courtside interview.
"We grew up together and I really wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
"Pressure is part of the game, especially in front of your own fans but it's also a very special feeling to be here and I am looking forward to playing against Janko.
"The most important thing is that Serbia will have one player in the final and may the best player win what should be a very entertaining match," he said.
Djokovic looked sharp in the opening set and won 14 of 16 points on his first serve, getting the crowd on their feet with a reflex volley and some delightful backhand winners.
He fired in 18 winners throughout the one-sided contest and appeared to leave a lot in the tank for the showdown with Tipsarevic, who beat India's Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in a rip-roaring contest which lasted 2 hours 38 minutes.
Djokovic won both their previous encounters but Tipsarevic said he was looking forward to face his Davis Cup team mate, who steered Serbia to their first title in the competition when they edged France 3-2 in the Belgrade Arena last December.
"It will be a good test of my credentials and it will show where I stand at the moment, as playing against the world's best is the only barometer of one's quality," Tipsarevic said.
Italian Filippo Volandri brushed aside Marcel Granollers 6-2, 6-4 to set up a last-four meeting with Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who beat compatriot Albert Montanes 6-4, 6-4.
Del Potro beats top seed Soderling to reach Estoril semi
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro staged a remarkable second-set comeback to beat top-seeded Swede Robin Soderling 6-4, 7-5 and reach the last four of the Estoril Open on Friday.
Argentine Del Potro, a former world number four currently ranked 46th after missing most of last year with a wrist injury, broke Soderling's serve in the fifth game to claim the first set.
World number five Soderling battled back, however, and raced to a 4-1 lead in the second set before heavy rain and a hailstorm forced the players to run for the locker-room.
Eighth seed Del Potro, who beat Roger Federer to win the US Open in 2009, made an immediate impact when play resumed over two hours later, winning six out of seven games to turn the second set around.
The tall Argentine will meet Pablo Cuevas in Saturday's semi-final after the Uruguayan, ranked 61st in the world, beat sixth-seeded Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 6-2.
The other quarter-finals were delayed until Saturday due to the rain, with South Africa's Kevin Anderson to play second-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco and Frenchman Gilles Simon meeting Canada's Milos Raonic.