Rafael Nadal is just two matches away from defending his Monte Carlo Masters title, an achievement that would see him extend his record haul at the event to a mammoth 11 titles. He plays 4th seed Grigor Dimitrov, a semi finalist for the first time in Monte Carlo. Nadal currently stands at No.1 in the ATP Rankings but will fall to No.2 should he fail to win this weekend.
A potential blockbuster between Nadal and a returning Novak Djokovic was thwarted by Dominic Thiem, who beat the Serbian in three sets. However, a Thiem-Nadal matchup still looked enticing on paper. However, Nadal destroyed the Austrian on Friday, dropping just two games in an utterly dominant performance. Nadal won the first 9 games in the 6-0 6-2 victory, needing just 70 minutes on court. “Here, I think I played great. I played so well this afternoon, playing very aggressive in general terms, backhand, forehand, serve. I’m defending well, returning well.” a delighted Nadal said afterwards.
Dimitrov looks back to form following a rough month in the USA, where he won just one match at the two Masters 1000 events combined. He beat David Goffin 6-4 7-6 to get this far, although the match was far from straightforward, especially the second set. He came from 0-4 down to win it and saved three set points on return before winning the eventual tiebreak. “I felt I did a lot of things better than the previous days,” said Dimitrov. “I started the match better and I served better. But then, at the same time, it’s clay court, anything can happen in a way. You always want to have that fight and that excitement to kind of come through it. But it’s very taxing obviously physically. There were a lot of positives from today’s match.”
The Bulgarian pushed Nadal all the way in their three meetings last year, taking him to a decider in Shanghai, Beijing and at the Australian Open. However, he was not successful in any of these attempts. Moving to Nadal’s favoured surface is unlikely to do him any favours either with the World No.1 in the midst of a 31 set winning streak on clay, if his Davis Cup wins are included. Even more outrageous is the number of games lost in this streak – 62.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets