Rafael Nadal survived an inspired Diego Schwartzman to secure a 6-4, 6-4 win and a spot in the semifinals of this year’s Monte Carlo Masters.
Things didn’t always break the 4th seeded Nadal’s way during the 1 hour and 40 minute victory. From a first set comeback by the Argentine to some flat play early on from Nadal, it seemed that the upset bug was still in the air after David Goffin beat Novak Djokovic early in the day.
Schwartzman broke Nadal at love in the first game, but the Spaniard was able to respond to take a 4-1 lead. But Schwartzman was able to find some range on his forehand and come up with some very solid play from the backhand side. He came within one point of a 5-4 lead, but Nadal was able to hold on and take the opener.
From 5-4 in the opener to a 2-0 advantage in the second set, it seemed like Nadal had regained control and was on his way to a relatively comfortable victory after a first set hiccup, but Schwartzman didn’t back down and broke serve in the third and fifth games for a 4-2 lead. It looked like they were about to play the fourth 3 set match of the day, but Nadal rallied and won 4 straight games to take the second set 6-4.
“It wasn’t easy to find a real way to win, but I played much better in the last three-and-a-half games, more aggressive with my forehand. I finally found the way to create damage on the opponent,” said Nadal. “I am in the semi-finals. That’s what I’m looking for, a great start to the clay-court season.”
Nadal will take on the Belgian David Goffin in the semifinal on Saturday. He is the heavy favorite to reach his 11th final in Monte-Carlo, where he has lifted nine trophies and has an incredible 61-4 match record. Albert Ramos-Vinolas will take on Lucas Pouille in the other semi-final on Saturday, and none of the remaining players in the draw besides Nadal have ever appeared in a Masters 1000 final. Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka were both upset earlier in the week, and Roger Federer is skipping this tournament for rest purposes.
Though Nadal is the heavy favorite to take the title, he isn’t taking any chances and was quick to compliment his opponent in his post-match press conference. “He’s a great player. He’s a player that is playing unbelievably well during the whole season. He is winning so many matches. I know he can win against everybody, and he knows it too,” said Nadal. He’s more and more confident every time. I said last year that he can fight for the top position because he’s a very complete player on all surfaces. He can play well everywhere. That’s very important today.”
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