ATP Monte Carlo: Nadal sets up Monfils final clash

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By Niall Clarke

  • Rafael Nadal defeats Andy Murray 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
  • Gael Monfils defeats Jo Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 6-3.
  • Monfils vs Nadal final on Sunday.

MONTE CARLO, MONACO- Rafael Nadal came from a set down to beat Andy Murray to make the final of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters where he will face Gael Monfils.

The eight time champion lost the first set 6-2 but came back in the second and ran away with the third to take the match 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 45 minutes.

It is Nadal’s seventh win in eight clay meetings against Murray who had won their previous encounter in the final of the Madrid Masters last year.

In a gruelling contest between two of the game’s best defensive players, both players were frustrated by some of the umpire’s decisions.

It all started before a ball was even hit. Murray won the coin toss, but umpire Damien Dumusois asked Nadal if he wanted to serve. The Spaniard pointed out the error, but the Brit graciously asked for a second toss of the coin which he also won. This time the umpire got it right and Murray elected to serve.

The Brit was frustrated by the lack of action over Nadal taking an average of 31 seconds between points. The official rules state that you are only allowed a 25 second break. Murray was irked further in the third set when Nadal delayed his serve by claiming he had something in his eye. At the next changeover, the umpire asked if he wanted medical attention.

Murray felt the umpire was favouring his opponent and, after dropping his serve, hit the ball towards the umpire’s chair in frustration, prompting Dumusois to say “you have zero respect for what I do”. Murray responded by telling the umpire he didn’t know what he was talking about. The French umpire eventually gave Nadal a time violation in the final game.

The disappointing end for Murray followed a great start in which he broke Nadal’s serve twice in the opening set- it was looking like Madrid all over again. However, the tennis world has become accustomed to the 29 year old’s fighting spirit and in the second set he fought back, breaking the Scot’s serve twice to take it 6-4.

From there Nadal had the momentum as Murray began to fade. The Spaniard broke Murray’s serve twice more before finishing the job in a dramatic final game. It took Nadal five attempts and two break point saves to book his place in Sunday’s final.

“It was a great match.”  Nadal said post match via BBC Sport.

“Andy played great tennis in the first set and I made him play even better. I needed something else – more intensity in my shots and I did that.

“The second set was close and anything could have happened, but I had more intensity and my shots were harder and longer and that was probably the difference.”

This marks Nadal’s 100th ATP final, and he will contest for his ninth Monte Carlo triumph on Sunday.

His opponent will be Monfils who put on a show to break fellow Frenchman Jo Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets 6-3, 6-1. The 13th seed took advantage of a subpar Tsonga who couldn’t replicate the form that beat Roger Federer on Friday.

Nadal will open as a big favourite for the final, having beaten Monfils 11 times in their 13 previous meetings, most of them in straight sets. The Frenchman also has a poor record in ATP finals, winning only five of the 23 he has played throughout his career.

“I expect an enormous match, a huge match. I need to try to have him play badly, or walk all over him,” said Monfils via Yahoo.

“To beat him, I need to take many risks, and I need to have some luck.”

The 29 year old is bidding for his first Masters title having lost in his two previous final, both in Paris. He will also be the first Frenchman since Cedric Pioline in 2000 to win in Monte Carlo.

Monfils vs Nadal will take place at 13:30 BST