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Monte-Carlo Tennis• Rublev Stuns Rafa • Tsitsipas, Ruud, and Evans all in Semis

Rafael Nadal of Spain leaves the court after losing his quarter final match against Andrey Rublev of Russia at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 16 April 2021. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

By Ricky Dimon

Only two seeded players advanced to the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. You can’t count either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal among them.

Nadal followed Djokovic out of the season’s second Masters 1000 event when he lost to Andrey Rublev 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 during quarterfinal action on Friday evening. Rublev maintained his incredibly hot form by beating the Spaniard for the first time in his career after two hours and 32 minutes.

Andrey Rublev of Russia in action during his quarter final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament ?in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 16 April 2021. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER


The Russian, who led the ATP Tour with five titles in 2020 and leads it this season with 23 match wins, abused Nadal’s serve from start to finish. He earned three breaks in the first set, one in the second, and three more in the third. Nadal hurt his own cause by double-faulting seven times, including five alone in the opening frame of play.

Although Rublev failed to close out a 4-2 lead in the second, he did extremely well to recover by breaking Nadal’s serve three times in a row to begin the decider.

“[On one hand], if we look [at] a player like Rafa, who is the best clay-court player in history, then of course it’s one of my best victories for sure,” the world No. 8 commented. “But if you look at [it] from [the] other side, how he feels, for sure he didn’t play his even ‘good’ level today.

“In his position, it’s so tough when people expect [that] you’re the best player on clay and you have to win…every time; you cannot lose on clay because you’re the best. It’s so tough to play with this feeling.”

Rublev is now 23-4 for his 2021 campaign.

Next up for Rublev is Casper Ruud, a straight-set winner over defending champion Fabio Fognini.

Saturday’s other semifinal pits Stefanos Tsitsipas against Dan Evans. Having previously not won a main-draw match on clay since 2017, Evans’ improbable run to the last four includes a third-round upset of Djokovic. The 30-year-old Brit beat David Goffin 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 on Friday.

Daniel Evans of Britain in action during his quarter final match against David Goffin of Belgium at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 16 April 2021. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER



“I played good today,” Evans assured. “I felt a bit more pressure today to not [just] win yesterday and give a bad performance today. It wasn’t easy after the match yesterday; I felt really tired afterwards. To get back and focus, it was difficult. I am proud of how I came back today…. Yesterday would not have been worth it with a bad performance today.”

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

Editors Note • we are pretty sure Rafa was feeling poorly. What you’d call under the weather. Rafa being Rafa was still going to play and try his best. His serve was pretty shaky and we stopped counting after 7 double faults. Exciting times in Pro tennis. Happy For Dan Evans. Sure hope it’s a clean slate there.  Monte Carlo is such a magical special place. . So beyond beautiful … (LJ)