Rafael Nadal is one match away from a threepeat at the Monte Carlo Masters with Kei Nishikori standing in the way of him and an extraordinary eleventh title at the event. Nadal has been in stellar form since his return and almost looks a shoe-in to sweep the clay swing through Roland Garros. A win will also maintain his spot at No.1 in the rankings going into Barcelona.
Nadal dropped four games in a set for the first time this week against Grigor Dimitrov, eventually winning 6-4 6-1. The Bulgarian kept things competitive early on but faltered when serving to stay in the first set, getting broken thanks to a Nadal forehand down the line. It was part of a 7 game winning streak, which ended when Dimitrov held for 5-1. “I’m just going to take only the positives out of the match,” said Nadal afterwards. “It’s great to be able to play three, four matches back-to-back. It was great to start again on a good note. I mean, today was also maybe the match that I moved the best out of everything. I see, like, a lot of positives for the upcoming weeks.
Nishikori showed no ill effects of his lengthy victory over Marin Cilic, reeling off another big win to make the final. It was over Alexander Zverev this time as he beat the German 3-6 6-3 6-4 in their second career meeting. With Zverev serving down match point, he hit a deep return to force which the German could only hook wide to end the match. It is Nishikori’s fourth Masters 1000 final and the first since August 2016. Kei is under no illusions of the task ahead of him, praising Nadal’s form this week. “Rafa has been hitting very, very heavy, especially on his forehand, but also his backhand,” Nishikori said. “He’s been playing very solid this week. I hope I can find a way to beat him.”
“With Kei, we had a lot of good matches in our career. I know I have to play at my best to keep having real chances of success. It’s an important match for me tomorrow.” said Nadal of his opponent. While Nishikori has shown he can keep up with Nadal, it’s hard to predict anything other than a win for the World No.1. The Spaniard has maintained such a high level on clay that no player can manage to keep up with. Another lopsided Nadal victory would be no surprise given he has not lost more than 5 games in a match all week.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets