10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Rafael Nadal Defeats Grigor Dimitrov • Nishikori Outlasts Zverev To Set Up A Great Monte-Carlo Rolex Final Showdown

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action during his semifinal match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 21 April 2018. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER



By Ricky Dimon


Rafael Nadal continued to crush the opposition at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, as he easily disposed of Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-1 during semifinal action on Saturday. Nadal came out of the gates slow by his lofty standards gave back a break in the opening set, but he soon seized control while cruising to the win after one hour and 32 minutes.


The top-ranked Spaniard is 6-0 on clay this season (2-0 in Davis Cup, 4-0 in Monte-Carlo) and not one of his previous adversaries has won more than four games in any set. None of his first four Monte-Carlo opponents took more than five games in total.


“I’m just going to take only the positives out of the match,” Nadal said following his rout of Dimitrov. “It’s great to be able to play three, four matches back-to-back. It was great to start again on a good note. Today was maybe the match that I moved the best out of everything. I see a lot of positives for the upcoming weeks. I think physically also I’m at a good level, in terms of moving well.”


If Kei Nishikori is moving less than 100 percent in Sunday’s title tilt, it would be understandable. While Nadal has been in cruise control, Nishikori–who is unseeded and therefore did not get an opening-round bye–has played five matches and four have required three sets. In his last two versus Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev, he needed more than five hours combined on the court.


Nishikori played from ahead against Cilic and failed to convert two match points on his own serve in the second set. The world No. 36 from Japan found himself behind most of the way against Zverev, but he recovered to prevail 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.


“I always enjoy playing this tournament,” Nishikori said while making just his second Monte-Carlo appearance and first since 2012. “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.”


“It was a good match,” Zverev commented. “My serve wasn’t there today; that’s why I had to play a lot of long rallies. Yesterday (against Richard Gasquet), obviously, the match was very tough physically. I was also very tired. By the end of it I was very tired. All in all, it was a good first week on clay. A lot of positives here. A few things I have to work on–especially my serve. I just have to think positively and I think there’s going to be a lot of other good weeks.”


Sunday will mark the 12th career contests between Nadal and Nishikori. Monte-Carlo’s No. 1 seed leads the head-to-head series 9-2, including 3-0 on clay. They have not squared off since the bronze-medal match at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where Nishikori triumphed 6-2, 6-7(1), 6-3.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *