Rafael Nadal had one of his worst days on clay. The 11-time Monte Carlo champion was a shell of himself today in the quarterfinals against Andrey Rublev. The Russian capitalized on 36 unforced errors from Nadal for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
“For sure he didn’t play his even good level today,” Rublev said.
“Today I was a bit lucky, especially the first set, he was not really feeling the serve well. Then I think from middle of second set he start to do doubles. He was not doing one double.”
For the first 90 minutes of the match, Nadal was spraying errors and donating double faults like never before. Rublev wasn’t even playing that great, yet he found himself up 6-2, 3-1 with break chances for 4-1.
Nadal started to find some form just as Rublev felt the finishing pressure. Rafa roared back to force a decider but Rublev jumped out early and hung on for his biggest win on this surface.
“All the situation was strange,” added Rublev. “Was not real that I was winning 6-2, 3-1, having breakpoints for second break. It was not real. Probably inside I understood that something is going to change. It cannot be like this all the match. If it’s like this all the match, then I don’t know, probably Rafa had his worst day of his life.”
Nadal tossed in seven double faults and was broken seven times on a dismal serving day. He was just 4/12 on break chances and made 19 unforced errors off the backhand with just five winners off that wing.
“When you face great player like him and you don’t play well, you should lose,” Nadal said.
“For some reason I had problems with my serve. I don’t know understand why because I was not having problems on the practices at all. But today was one of these days that my serve was a disaster.
“Serving like this, the serve creates an impact on the rest of the game. When you serve with no confidence, you are just focus on try to serve, not think about how you want to play the ball. You just think about what you have to do with the serve to put the ball in. Then you have problems continue and prepare the point the right way.
“He played well. That’s true. He played great. He played aggressive, as I knew. Well done for him. Happy for him. He’s a great guy. Wish him all the best.”
Rublev moves on to meet surprise semifinalist Casper Ruud who ousted defending champion Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3 to reach his second Masters semifinal after Rome last year. And with Nadal out, it’s quite an opportunity.
“Tomorrow there has to be one winner of the match, and hopefully it can be me,” said Ruud. “I will try to relax and get a lot of energy for tomorrow and think that it’s a little bit now or never.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas continue to be the most consistent player on tour. The Greek reached his fourth semifinal of the year when Alejandro Davidovich Fokina retired down 7-5 due to a left leg injury.
“I can play better,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m playing well. I have potential for better. I take every opportunity I have to play with magnitude and respect.
“So far so good. I feel like the bigger tournaments, the more tougher the opponents get. That is also due to the form they’ve been in to reach that level and to reach that round in the tournament.
Tsitsipas will battle Dan Evans who advanced to his first Masters semi beat David Goffin 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Evans has now doubled his career win total on clay just this week, going from four to eight.
“Obviously pretty poor back then to developing my game on the clay and to try and put my game onto that surface,” Evans said.
“It’s been fun. Like I’d say all my matches have been totally different,” he said. “It’s been good fun to play. But it’s definitely got a lot to do with the movement aspect on it. I feel a bit more comfortable moving. It’s been a lot easier. Obviously I have worked with a fitness trainer for a few weeks. We did a lot of footwork stuff, sliding. It’s definitely helped.”
Evans is also in the double semifinals later in the day on Saturday.
Regardless of results Saturday, there will be at least one new Masters finalist and a new Masters champion on Sunday.
SATURDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
Court Rainier III Starts At 11:30 Am
SF 4 Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos v 2 Nikola Mektic/Mate Pavic
Not Before 1:30 Pm
SF Daniel Evans v 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas
SF 6 Andrey Rublev v Casper Ruud
SF 1 Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah v Daniel Evans/Neal Skupski
You Might Like:
Federer Reverses Monte Carlo Decision, Will Take On Nadal
Novak Djokovic: My Wrist Injury Isn’t That Bad, I Will Play Madrid!
Tsitsipas, Rublev To Meet In Monte Carlo For First Masters Title
Del Potro Withdraws From Monte Carlo; Kyrgios, Gasquet Also Out
Djokovic, Nadal Start Strong In Clay Openers In Monte Carlo