There seems to be no man capable of stopping Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard rolled into yet another Monte Carlo final, winning 8 of the last 9 games to dismiss Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-1.
“I think I played solid,” said Nadal. “It had been a very hard first set until the 4-all. A lot of tough games. Yes, I made a big mistake at 3-1, I played a very bad game. Then he came back… I really had a lot of chances in the first set. I was little bit lucky he hit two double-faults at 4-5, and one missed with the forehand. That gave me the advantage and then a good point to finish the first set. In the second, I think he started to miss more. He missed more than usual. I was solid there. That’s all.”
The Spaniard has now won his last 13 matches on clay, 34 straight sets and has dropped just 16 games in four matches this week.
“I’m just going to take only the positives out of the match,” said Nadal. “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. Again, despite the result, I think physically also I’m at a good level, in terms of moving well.”
In the final, it will be Kei Nishikori. Like Nadal, Nishikori is also coming off injury (wrist), and today the Japanese outlasted Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“I always enjoy playing this tournament,” said Nishikori. “It’s a great place to play tennis. I’m happy to be back in final of a Masters 1000 again. It’s been long time for me. Hopefully I can have another good day tomorrow.”
Added Nadal, “It’s a tough final, as a Masters 1000 should be, against a great opponent… 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.”
Nishikori has never won a Masters title (0-3 in finals) and is just 2-9 against Rafa, though did have him on the ropes in Madrid a few years ago before a back injury put a halt to the final.
“Rafa has been hitting very, very heavy, especially on his forehand, but also his backhand,” said Nishikori. “He’s been playing very solid this week. I hope I can find a way to beat him.”
Nadal is bidding for a record 31st Masters win and 76th of his career. And if he wins he’ll retain his No. 1 ranking.
Nishikori is trying to become the fourth straight first-time Masters winner.
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