A rematch of the memorable 2010 U.S Open encounter between world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Teymuraz Gabashvili is set to take place on Wednesday afternoon on Court Central at the Monte Carlo Masters. This marks the fourth time they will meet on the professional tour, with the Spaniard holding an impenetrable 3-0 record in the head-to-head series.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is coming off a failed attempt to capture his fist ever Masters 1000 title in Miami, as he lost to nemesis Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Overall, it was a strong fortnight for Rafa, who defeated Hewitt, Istomin and Fognini without dropping more than four games per match, yet needed slightly more effort to dispatch of Raonic in three sets. Arriving at his semi-final clash with Berdych, it was revealed that the Czech No. 1 had suffered a stomach virus and would be withdrawing from the event, offering Nadal a walkover into the final. The Spaniard was unable to take advantage of the opportunity, and lost in convincing fashion to his Serbian adversary.
This will surely be in the back of Rafa’s mind, as the eight-time Monte Carlo champion lost at the event for the first time since 2004 last year, when he was toppled by Djokovic in the historic encounter. He will be looking to regain the title he forfeited for the first time last year.
World No. 58 Teymuraz Gabashivili rallied to defeat France’s Gilles Simon 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to set up the second round encounter against the top seed. The Russian had reached the second round of both the Indian Wells and Miami Masters, losing to Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer respectively.
Nadal’s victory over Gabashvili four years ago at the US Open was a straight sets one, yet it was far more competitive and entertaining than the scoreline would show. The world No 1, who was attempting to complete a career Grand Slam, defeated the gallant Gabashvili 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in two hours and 57 minutes. It is unlikely that the Spaniard will need to exhaust that much effort on his favourite surface, and will ultimately earn another straight sets victory.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets