Rafael Nadal is already in ruthless clay form. Today, the Spaniard demolished who many consider to be the second best player on clay, Dominic Thiem, by a margin of 6-0, 6-2.
The 10-time Monte Carlo champion has lost just 11 games in six sets so far and has taken his last 32 sets on clay with 12 straight wins.
It has been a great result for me, but it isn’t a normal result,” said Nadal after reaching his 13th Monte Carlo semifinal. “He’s one of the best players of the world, especially on clay.
“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. It has been a great day for me, and a very good result against a very difficult rival. I’m sorry for him, because he’s a good friend. It was a tough score, of course. But I know he is going to be fighting for every title during the clay court season.”
Nadal next meets Grigor Dimitrov who eased past good friend David Goffin 6-4, 7-6(5) to reach his first Monte Carlo semifinal. However, the Bulgarian is just 1-10 against Rafa.
“For sure he’s the favorite. Yes, he has a great record. Yes, he’s the best player on clay. That definitely doesn’t discourage me. That excites me to get out on Saturday and play my match, simple as that,” Dimitrov said looking ahead to Nadal.
“One of the wrong things you can do is really focus on his side. I always said that. Whoever you play, you always got to focus on your end, the way you structure yourself to go out and play, be creative on the court. That’s just how it is. Honestly, I’m happy to be out here, happy to compete against him on such an occasion.”
Added Rafa, “I know it’s difficult to play better than today. Being honest, I have to recognize that… But my goal is to rest and to try to wake up again with the same energy and to go on court with the same mentality, try to play close to the way that I played today.”
Kei Nishikori continued to impress in his comeback beating Marin Cilic in three tough sets 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-4. It’s Nishikori’s first Masters semi since 2016 Canada.
“This week has been pretty good. It’s my first tournament on clay. I always love to play on clay court,” Nishikori said. “I have been feeling pretty good. I think every match is getting closer and closer.”
Awaiting Nishikori will be Alexander Zverev who celebrated his 21st birthday winning a thriller over Richard Gasquet 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
“I’m just happy that I could turn around the second set. I thought I played probably the best set of this tournament so far on all levels, from the baseline, returning-wise. Obviously the third set was very intense, a lot of tight moments. I feel like in the tightest moments we both played the best tennis,” Zverev said.
Zverev leads 1-0 with a win over Nishikori last summer in D.C. and he’s a perfect 3-0 in Masters semifinals.
SATURDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
COURT RAINIER III Starts At 11:30 Am
SF (WC) Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini v 4 Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan
Not Before 1:30 Pm
SF 1 Rafael Nadal v 4 Grigor Dimitrov
Not Before 3:30 Pm
SF 3 Alexander Zverev v Kei Nishikori
SF 3 Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic v Rohan Bopanna/Edouard Roger-Vasselin
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