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Updated: 12 min 22 sec ago

Dimitrov's Mission: Stop Relentless Rafa In Monte-Carlo SF

15 hours 4 min ago
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Is an 11th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title in the cards for Rafael Nadal? You wouldn't have been blamed for wondering aloud that prediction before this week in Monte-Carlo, and, given this week's proceedings, no one will fault you for thinking that now as well.

Nadal has been at his trademark ruthless best in the Principality. The Spaniard, playing in only his second tournament of the season, has yet to drop more than three games in a set, a stretch that includes his 6-0, 6-2 demolition of No. 7 Dominic Thiem, the only man to beat Nadal on clay last year, during Friday's quarter-final.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the following matches from the 2018 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters & vote for who you think will win! 
Nadal v Dimitrov | Zverev v Nishikori

[GROUP POLL]132[/GROUP POLL] 

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The World No. 1 has won 12 straight matches and 32 straight sets on clay since that hiccup against Thiem in the 2017 Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarter-finals in Rome.

“I played so well this afternoon, playing very aggressive in general terms, backhand, forehand, serve. I'm defending well, returning well. I can't say much more, no? Have been a great day for me, and a very good result against a very difficult rival,” Nadal said.

The 31-year-old didn't face a break point and won nearly 70 per cent of all points (58/86), including 63 per cent of Thiem's second-serve offerings (19/30).

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“I know it's difficult to play better than today. Being honest, I have to recognise that,” Nadal said. “But my goal is to rest and to try to wake up [Saturday] again with the same energy and to go on court with the same mentality, try to play close to the way that I played today.”

His semi-final opponent, Grigor Dimitrov, however, is eager for the challenge of facing Nadal, in what will be their 12th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. The Bulgarian is through to his first semi-final at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Monaco, and he's shown he has the mettle to fight on the red dirt.

Watch: Nadal Beats Thiem To Reach Monte-Carlo SF

Twice Dimitrov has come back from a set down in Monte-Carlo, beating the serve-and-volleying Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the second round and six-time clay-court titlist Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany to reach the quarter-finals.

On Friday, Dimitrov edged good friend and doubles partner David Goffin, a Monte-Carlo semi-finalist last year, 6-4, 7-6(5). Dimitrov had reached the quarter-finals at the Monte-Carlo Country Club two prior times (2013, 2015).

“Today I felt I did a lot of things better than the previous days. I started the match better. I served better. Overall my stats were much better,” Dimitrov said.

But, as the No. 5 player in the ATP Rankings knows well, facing Nadal on the red dirt will be an entirely different challenge. Dimitrov trails in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 1-10. He beat Nadal during the quarter-finals of the 2016 China Open, played on hard courts. But Dimitrov has lost all three times they've played on clay, including at 2013 Monte-Carlo.

Read More: Best Rivalries of 2017: Nadal v. Dimitrov

“For sure he's the favourite. Yes, he has a great record. Yes, he's the best player on clay. That definitely doesn't discourage me. That excites me to get out on Saturday and play my match, simple as that,” Dimitrov said of Nadal, who's 66-4 in Monte-Carlo.

“One of the wrong things you can do is really focus on his side. I always said that. Whoever you play, you always got to focus on your end, the way you structure yourself to go out and play, be creative on the court. That's just how it is. Honestly, I'm happy to be out here, happy to compete against him on such an occasion.”

Watch: Dimitrov Curls Lob Winner

Saturday's second semi-final will feature a pair of first-time Monte-Carlo semi-finalists, when Alexander Zverev of Germany meets Japan's Kei Nishikori. Zverev celebrated his 21st birthday by fighting through the one of the matches of the tournament on Friday, beating Frenchman Richard Gasquet 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 39 minutes.

“I'm just happy that I could turn around the second set. I thought I played probably the best set of this tournament so far on all levels, from the baseline, returning-wise. Obviously the third set was very intense, a lot of tight moments. I feel like in the tightest moments we both played the best tennis,” Zverev said.

The 21-year-old, No. 4 in the ATP Rankings, will try to stay perfect in Masters 1000 semi-finals (3-0) and reach his fourth final at the prestigious level (2017 Rome, Montreal; 2018 Miami). Zverev leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 1-0, a 6-3, 6-4 win last year in the Citi Open semi-finals.

“It's going to be a different match [on Saturday]. Hopefully I can be ready for it, and it will be another good one,” said Zverev, who finished Friday's play under the lights on Court Rainier III, the main show court.

Watch: Zverev Reflects On QF Win Against Gasquet

Nishikori, playing in Monte-Carlo for only the second time (2012), overcame seeing three match points come and go in the second set to hold onto victory against Croatian Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-3 in the quarter-finals.

The 28-year-old right-hander will play in his first Masters 1000 semi-final in nearly two years, since July 2016 in Toronto.

“This week has been pretty good. It's my first tournament on clay. I always love to play on clay court... I have been feeling pretty good. I think every match is getting closer and closer,” Nishikori said.

The former No. 4 in the ATP Rankings continues to make steady progress during his comeback from right-wrist surgery. Just two months ago, Nishikori was playing in the ATP Challenger Tour event in Dallas, which he won. But on Saturday, he'll have the opportunity to make his fourth Masters 1000 final, and his second on clay (2014 Madrid on clay, l. to Nadal; 2016 Miami, 2016 Toronto, l. to Djokovic).

“Happy to be back in the semi-finals here... I feel like I've been playing well this week,” he said.

Hot Shot: Gasquet Ends Marathon Point With Deft Touch

15 hours 40 min ago
Richard Gasquet ends a marathon rally with a backhand volley against Alexander Zverev at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Friday. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Zverev Celebrates Birthday With Thrilling Victory

17 hours 1 min ago
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Alexander Zverev made it a 21st birthday to remember on Friday night by reaching the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-finals for the first time.

The third-seeded German overcame the courtcraft and inventiveness of Richard Gasquet, in addition to a respectful and predominantly French crowd, to complete a hard-fought and thrilling 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory. It was his fourth straight win over 2005 semi-finalist Gasquet, who, one day prior, had become the first man from his country to record 500 match wins.

"The third set was very intense, a lot of tight moments. I feel like in the tightest moments we both played the best tennis," Zverev said. "I'm just happy with my performance tennis-wise, also mentally-wise."

With cheers of “Allez, Richard” reverberating around Monte-Carlo bay, Gasquet recovered from a 0-2 deficit in the deciding set and came within one point of breaking for 5-4 and 6-5 leads. Zverev held his nerve in clutch moments to record his fourth straight win over Gasquet in two hours and 39 minutes.

"It was great. I think always in south of France, or in France, when a French player is playing, it's always going to be a great atmosphere," Zverev said. "Obviously a lot of spectators were for him, how they should be. I enjoyed it out there."

Zverev will now play Japan’s Kei Nishikori in Saturday’s semi-finals, having won their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at the 2017 Citi Open in Washington, D.C. Last month, Zverev advanced to the Miami Open presented by Itaú final (l. to Isner) and is now 17-6 on the season.

Gasquet played utilised intelligent tactics in the first set, controlling rallies with his single-handed backhand, stepping inside the baseline and hitting his forehand aggressively, in addition to striking inventive shots at the right time.

Initially, a double fault saw Zverev broken to love in the opening game, then a forehand volley winner from Gasquet gave him a 4-1 advantage, which was one of four straight service breaks. At 5-4, when serving for the set for a second time, Gasquet calmly closed out with a backhand drop shot winner on his second set point opportunity.

The second set was just as dramatic. Having saved three break points in the opening game, Zverev then took a 2-0 lead with a forehand volley winner, but the predominantly French crowd attempted to rouse Gasquet. Zverev took time away from Gasquet and seized the momentum with a hold to 15 for 4-1 that broke three straight games of service breaks. A backhand error from Gasquet, which he snatched at in attempting to strike down the line, handed Zverev the set.

The match could have unravelled for Gasquet early in the decider, when two stray forehands saw the 31-year-old broken in the second game. But Gasquet fought and, although unable to overpower Zverev as both players struggled for service consistency — that resulted in four straight service breaks — the Frenchman did get back to level terms.

Gasquet came within one point of breaking serve for 5-4 and 6-5 leads, but Zverev held his nerve and fell to the ground after sealing a memorable victory with a backhand winner down the line.

"It's very tough to lose that one. It was an incredible match," Gasquet said. "He's very strong. He fights a lot. That's why he's Top 4 right now. He's a great competitor. An incredible match. It hurts to lose 7-5 in the third. The match point was crazy."

Gasquet recorded his first tour-level match win as a 15-year-old at the 2002 Monte-Carlo tournament, and he remains the youngest player to earn a victory since Tommy Ho, also 15, at 1988 Rye Brook.

Zverev had previously beaten Gasquet in 2017 in the Open Sud de France final in Montpellier, the Gerry Weber Open semi-finals in Halle and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Canada in Montreal, where the German saved three match points.

Did You Know?
Alexander Zverev will attempt to reach his fourth Masters 1000 final — the German triumphed last year in Rome and Montreal before finishing runner-up this year in Miami.

Monte-Carlo 2018

17 hours 26 min ago

Nadal: 'I Think I Played Great'

19 hours 2 min ago
Rafael Nadal can't imagine playing better than he did en route to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Dominic Thiem to advance to the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Nishikori: 'Every Match Is Difficult Against Marin'

19 hours 13 min ago
Kei Nishikori admits he's happy to earn a hard-fought, three-set win over Marin Cilic and to advance to the semi-finals at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Nadal Advises Friend & Rival Murray On Rehab Process

19 hours 26 min ago

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have faced off 24 times in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (Nadal, 17-7). But, off the court, the two can easily put aside their rivalry and resume their friendship, as evidenced by a recent phone call between the two ATP World Tour greats.

Murray, who's rehabbing from surgery on his right hip, and Nadal, who knows the rehab process well, chatted on the phone a couple of weeks ago, Nadal said on Friday after his Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-final win against Dominic Thiem.

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Nadal and Murray also talked in Melbourne in January, when the Scot had planned on competing at the Australian Open but later aborted that idea and underwent surgery.

“I don't want to tell you about the things that we talked [about] because will not be fair for him, and I will not feel comfortable with it. But, yes, I tell him the things that I think worked for me. Then, of course, he has his group and he will decide,” Nadal said.

Read More: Djokovic Accepts Wild Card Into Barcelona


Murray beat Nadal during the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open final. (Getty Images photo) 

The Spaniard is playing in only his second tournament of the year because of a right-hip injury that forced him to retire from his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic. Nadal also had to withdraw from Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami because of the injury.

In years past, he's dealt with a number of rehab processes as well, because of knee and wrist injuries, among other maladies.

“I have been in that situation. I know how tough and frustrating is when you work every day and you don't see the light of how to improve. You don't see any improvements. But then one day trying things, trying treatments, one day things are going better, no?” Nadal said.

“That's what I really hope about [Murray] because he is important, very important, for our Tour.”

The “Big Four” of Nadal, Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have dominated the game unlike any other four players competing in the same era. Yet, Nadal said, they all know they're only a phone call away if someone needs something.

“I think everybody knows that we can ask to the other if there is any doubt. Doesn't matter if we are rivals; for me, the friendship is before the tennis court. If any player has any doubts about the injuries or treatment that I do, I am always very happy to tell them my experience,” Nadal said.

“Bad thing is I have better experience than all of them in all of these cases. So every time that any player ask me for things or treatments that I do, I just try to tell my experience if that can be a good help.”

Nadal will play again on Saturday against Grigor Dimitrov in the Monte-Carlo semi-finals. Murray, meanwhile, who last competed at 2017 Wimbledon, is expected to return to the ATP World Tour on grass at the Libema Open in 's-Hertogenbosch, which starts 11 June.

“Comebacks are not easy,” Nadal said. “If Andy is healthy, he will come back. After a long period time, maybe he will not be back and winning first week, but he will not forget how to play tennis. He knows that, and everybody knows that. If he is healthy, he will be back on a position to fight for the most important things.”

Kei Brings 'A' Game, Upsets Cilic

19 hours 40 min ago
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Kei Nishikori pumped his right fist in celebration after winning a physically demanding encounter against Marin Cilic on Friday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Nishikori, renowned for his fighting abilities, had seen three match points evaporate in the second set, but as the match wore on he dug deep in the critical moments to complete a 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-3 quarter-final victory over the second-seeded Cilic.

“Every match I think I'm improving,” said Nishikori. “Today was tough match. He was playing very good, especially in the second set. He was playing aggressively, [taking the ball] early and serving well.

“It wasn't an easy match. Yeah, mentally it was a little bit tough in the second set. I lost three match points. He was starting to play better again.”

Having also worked hard in his three previous wins this week over 2015 runner-up Tomas Berdych, Daniil Medvedev and qualifier Andreas Seppi, the Japanese star – through to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final in 20 months – will now prepare to compete on Saturday against third-seeded German Alexander Zverev, celebrating his 21st birthday today.

Nishikori, who reached the New York Open semi-finals (l. to Anderson) in February, lost to Zverev in their only previous meeting at the 2017 Citi Open in Washington D.C..

Nishikori’s eighth victory in 14 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against World No. 3 Cilic was earned over two hours and 56 minutes. It was the first time he had beaten a player in the Top 3 of the ATP Rankings since November 2016, when he beat then No. 3-ranked Monte-Carlo resident Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals.

The Japanese star has reached three Masters 1000 finals – at the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Nadal) and two in 2016 at the Miami Open presented by Itaú and the Rogers Cup in Toronto (l. to Djokovic both times), which was also his last semi-final appearance at the elite level.

Nishikori looked in complete control throughout the first set, which included one service break in the fifth game. But when Cilic was leading 3-1 in the second set, the Croatian stopped play after the first point of the fifth game to take a medical time out. With something bothering Cilic below his right knee that was already strapped up, the three-minute break in play benefitted Nishikori, who broke back immediately and went on to clinch Cilic’s serve in a nine-minute ninth game.

Yet Nishikori, serving for a place in the semi-finals, was unable to close out three match point opportunities from 40/15 and Ad-In, courtesy of a double fault, a backhand error and a well-timed backhand winner from Cilic. Soon errors in the tie-break, coupled with aggressive play from Cilic that saw the second seed win seven of the eight points, sent the encounter into a decider.

Nishikori needed to bide his time until the eighth game of the third set, with Cilic hit a forehand into the net when serving at 30/40. Minutes later, at 5-3, 40/30, Nishikori sent a first serve down the middle which Cilic couldn’t get enough racquet on.

Monte-Carlo resident Cilic, who had been competing in the quarter-finals for the third time (also 2015, 2017) at the club where he trains year-round, drops to a 15-6 match record on the season, which includes a runner-up finish at the Australian Open (l. to Federer).

Did You Know?
Nishikori continues his pursuit of a third tour-level clay-court title. The Japanese star triumphed in Barcelona in 2014 and 2015.

Nadal vs Dimitrov: Cast Your Vote!

19 hours 45 min ago

View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the following matches from the 2018 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters & vote for who you think will win! 
Nadal v Dimitrov | Zverev v Nishikori

[GROUP POLL]132[/GROUP POLL] 

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Preview: Rafa Looks To Keep Rolling Against Dimitrov Monte-Carlo 2018 SF

19 hours 57 min ago
Rafael Nadal will look to reach his 12th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final on Saturday in the Principality. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Another Test, Another Win For The Bryan Bros

20 hours 1 min ago

It has not been easy for 115-time tour-level champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. But in crunch time, the 39-year-old twins have found ways to survive and advance.

A day after saving match point, the Americans faced another tough battle, overcoming defending champion Pablo Cuevas and his partner, Marcel Granollers, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10-5.

Bryan/Bryan, who turn 40 on 29 April, are into their sixth semi-final in eight tournaments this year, winning their 37th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Miami Open presented by Itaú.

The fourth seeds did not earn a break point in the match, but saved all four against them. And in the Match Tie-break, they gained a 5/0 lead that they did not relinquish, closing out the match in one hour, 49 minutes as they continue pursuing a sixth trophy in Monte-Carlo. It was the brothers’ second victory against Cuevas this season, after defeating the Uruguayan and Horacio Zeballos in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in March.

The 115-time tour-level titlists next face wild cards Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli, who lost to Bryan/Bryan in the 2015 Monte-Carlo final. The Italians have won three tour-level titles as a team, with their most recent triumph coming at the 2015 Australian Open.

On the bottom of the draw, the other half of the 2017 championship-winning duo, Rohan Bopanna, joined partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin to defeat this year’s Australian Open and Argentina Open finalists Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-4, 6-4.

They advance to face third seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, who got a walkover against Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin, as the Bulgarian withdrew citing a shoulder injury.

Marach and Pavic have won three tour-level titles this season (Doha, Auckland, Australian Open) and currently lead the ATP Doubles Race To London.

Did You Know?
Bryan/Bryan have lost just one set against Bolelly/Fognini in their four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

Djokovic Accepts Wild Card Into Barcelona

21 hours 8 min ago

Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has accepted a wild card into next week’s Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. It will be the Serbian’s first appearance at the event since 2006, when he fell in the first round.

Djokovic competed in his first clay-court event at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters this week, losing a three-set thriller Thursday against Dominic Thiem. The ninth seed said after the match that he would like to play some more matches.

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“I'm feeling like it's been getting better every day. I've had three matches here. I didn't expect anything. I played without pain in the elbow, which is important. I have my coach Marian [Vajda] back in the box. So lot of good things,” Djokovic said. “I look forward to building more confidence on the court, to get my game on a desired level.”

The 30-year-old joins an elite field in Spain, with 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Thiem leading the way.

Dimitrov Says It's 'Amazing' To Reach First Monte-Carlo SF

Fri, 20/04/2018 - 10:52pm
Grigor Dimitrov reacts to his quarter-final win against friend David Goffin at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Friday. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Ruthless Rafa Rushes Into Semi-finals

Fri, 20/04/2018 - 10:30pm
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World No. 1 Rafael Nadal was rock solid on Friday when he broke apart the challenge of Dominic Thiem, one of the strongest performers on clay courts over the past two years, for a place in his 13th semi-final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Nadal won the first nine games of an eagerly anticipated encounter against Novak Djokovic’s conqueror, Thiem, in a 6-0, 6-2 victory over 68 minutes to remain on course to capture an 11th crown at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where he has a 66-4 record.

“It has been a great result for me, but it isn’t a normal result,” said Nadal. “He's one of the best players of the world, especially on clay.

“Here, I think I played great. I played so well this afternoon, playing very aggressive in general terms, backhand, forehand, serve. I'm defending well, returning well. It has been a great day for me, and a very good result against a very difficult rival. I’m sorry for him, because he's a good friend. It was a tough score, of course. But I know he is going to be fighting for every title during the clay court season.”

Nadal, with a 394-35 mark (.918) in clay-court matches in his illustrious career according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, will next look to beat Monte-Carlo resident and fourth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov for the 12th time in their 13th meeting on Saturday. Nadal has won 30 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies.

Nadal’s consistency in groundstroke length that took time away from Thiem, his quick footwork in exploiting any short ball and the variety of pace ensured that the Spanish superstar capitalised on his Austrian opponent’s erratic patterns of play. It wasn’t until 52 minutes had passed that Thiem won his first game, a hold to Advantage for 3-1, which was cheered loudly by the capacity crowd on Court Rainier III, the main show court.

Last year, Nadal got the better of Thiem in three of their four red dirt meetings – finals at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and the Mutua Madrid Open, in addition to the Roland Garros semi-finals. Thiem’s second win in seven previous meetings came in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarter-finals.

The 31-year-old Nadal must retain the Monte-Carlo title if he is to remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for a 171st week, otherwise his Swiss rival, Roger Federer, will return to the top spot on 23 April. This week, he is competing at his first tournament since sustaining a hip injury in January during the Australian Open quarter-finals against Marin Cilic.

Thiem, who committed 25 unforced errors against Nadal, is now 10-2 on clay this year (19-5 overall), which includes his ninth ATP World Tour crown at the Argentina Open (d. Bedene) in February.

Did You Know?
This is the eighth time Nadal has lost two games or less at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, and the first time he has done so at the tournament against a Top 10 opponent.

Hot Shot: Dimitrov Curls Lob Winner Over Goffin

Fri, 20/04/2018 - 9:56pm
Grigor Dimitrov turns defence into offence at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Friday as he hits a beautiful forehand lob from deep in the court that David Goffin cannot get to. Photo Credit: Realis/Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Hot Shot: Goffin Produces Magic At Net

Fri, 20/04/2018 - 9:55pm
David Goffin is put in a spot of trouble at the net, but produces beautiful touch to win the point against Grigor Dimitrov Friday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Dazzling Dimitrov Ousts Doubles Partner Goffin

Fri, 20/04/2018 - 9:14pm
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It’s never easy playing a friend, but on Friday, a couple of hours before they were due to step onto a court again as doubles partners, Grigor Dimitrov put aside any sentiment to save three set points in the second set and beat David Goffin for a place in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-finals.

Under sun-kissed skies, on the hottest day of the week, fourth seed Dimitrov wrestled back the second-set momentum of sixth seed Goffin, recovering from a 1-5 deficit to win five straight games en route to completing a 6-4, 7-6(5) victory.

Goffin, a semi-finalist at the Monte-Carlo Country Club last year, was unable to convert three set point chances at 5-4 in the second set during an 18-point game against Dimitrov, who had won the biggest of their seven previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings in November for the Nitto ATP Finals crown (Dimitrov now leads 7-1 overall).

“I felt I did a lot of things better than the previous days,” said Dimitrov. “I started the match better and I served better. But then, at the same time, it's clay court, anything can happen in a way. You always want to have that fight and that excitement to kind of come through it. But it's very taxing obviously physically. There were a lot of positives from today's match. That's all I can say.”

Dimitrov, a resident of Monte-Carlo, will now test his clay prowess and fitness levels against World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, with 10 titles earned on Court Rainier III, who beat fifth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem. Dimitrov trails Nadal 1-10 in their series, with his lone win coming in the 2016 China Open quarter-finals.

“For sure he's the favourite. Yes, he has a great record. Yes, he's the best player on clay. That definitely doesn't discourage me. That excites me to get out on Saturday and play my match, simple as that.

“I think one of the wrong things you can do is really focus on his side. I always said that. Whoever you play, you always got to focus on your end, the way you structure yourself to go out and play, be creative on the court. That's just how it is.”

When asked about Nadal’s win over Thiem, Dimitrov said, “Rafa was on his ‘A game’ again. You’ve always got to be aware that he's going to try his best on this surface… I wouldn't call it frightening. I would say comfortable. He just feels comfortable.

“It's always been a tough call on my side, of course. That doesn't discourage me. If things are not going my way, at least I get some learning, something that might help me in the long run.”

Dimitrov held the upper hand in the first set, his forehand having extra pop to deny Goffin the opportunity to gain a foothold. Having broken Goffin for a 4-2 lead, Dimitrov grew in confidence and targeted Goffin’s forehand, his weaker side, but the Bulgarian was unable to convert two set points at 5-4 to be broken. But he quickly established his superiority in the next game to break Goffin for the 35-minute set.

Goffin, knowing he needed to play closer to the baseline, became aggressive and dictated to win the first four games — for the loss of seven points — in the second set, which he eventually led 5-1. Dimitrov regrouped and, at times, went for broke in his ball-striking to regain the momentum as Goffin started to drop the ball short. Goffin came to serve for the set, for a second time, at 5-4, but could not convert three set point chances—all at Ad Out. Most notably, on his first opportunity, when, with Dimitrov stranded the other side of the court, the Belgian hit a backhand down the line into the net. Goffin crouched down in anguish. Dimitrov, ultimately, converted his fifth break point chance and took a 6-5 lead.

Dimitrov, who won the first two points of the tie-break before being checked back, sealed his second match point at 6/5 when Goffin, in control of a long rally, was brought to the net by a low backhand slice. Dimitrov then ripped a backhand down the line for Goffin to punch a forehand volley long to end the one-hour and 46-minute encounter.

It was their first clash since February, when, in the semi-finals of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, Goffin injured his left eye in a freak accident early in the second set against Dimitrov.

The pair had been due to return to Court des Princes, the tournament’s second show court, later today to compete together against third seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the doubles quarter-finals, but Dimitrov withdrew from the match due to a right shoulder injury.

Did You Know?
Seven consecutive FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings between Dimitrov and Goffin have come either in the quarter-finals or later in an event or at the Nitto ATP Finals. Dimitrov is 6-1 in those meetings.

Legendary Coach Piatti Realises Dream With 'House For Tennis'

Fri, 20/04/2018 - 6:45pm
Riccardo Piatti, former coach of Ivan Ljubicic, Novak Djokovic and Richard Gasquet, among others, opened his new tennis centre before the 2018 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Piatti currently coaches Croatian Borna Coric.

Zverev Happy To Battle Into SFs In Monte-Carlo 2018

Fri, 20/04/2018 - 5:42pm
Alexander Zverev discusses his victory against Richard Gasquet at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on his 21st birthday. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Highlights: Rafa Rolls Past Thiem Into 13th Monte-Carlo SF

Fri, 20/04/2018 - 5:39pm
Watch highlights as Rafael Nadal raced past Dominic Thiem at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. He will face Grigor Dimitrov, while Alexander Zverev and Kei Nishikori booked their spot in the other semi-final Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.