22 April, 2018
Defending champion Rafa Nadal remains on course for an 11th Monte Carlo Masters title after beating Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-1 in the semi-finals on Saturday. "Being honest, I have to recognize that".
The 30-year-old, who is working with former long-time coach Marian Vajda for the first time in a year, is now ranked 13 in the world.
Nadal edged the opening set in the 10th game with a blistering forehand before he raced into a 5-0 lead in the second to stamp his authority on the match.
The clay-court season is in full swing in Monte Carlo.
It was the 12th time Nadal had whitewashed a set against a top-10 player, and he got the second set underway with another love hold.
The way he dismantled Thiem, it appears little can stop him from doing so.
But Dimitrov wasted all of his earlier good work, handing Nadal two set points with back-to-back double faults and a wild forehand.
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The 31-year-old brought up match point with a searing forehand victor, and completed a 68-minute demolition as Thiem fired a backhand into the net. Yes, he has a great record. "It is hard to play better than today".
Nadal dominated the return game, particularly on Dimitrov's second serves, winning 73.7 percent of his second-serve return points, up from his tour-leading mark of 56.9 percent over the past year.
The German won a marathon final set at 2100 local time to book a semi-final clash with Kei Nishikori.
Event organizers made the announcement on Friday, a day after the Serb was beaten by Dominic Thiem in the Monte Carlo Masters third round.
Nadal is playing in his first ATP tournament since pulling out of his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January with a hip injury, but has shown no signs of rust in the principality.