Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov ATP Monte Carlo tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Ominous Nadal takes on Dimitrov in Monte Carlo semi

Leye Aduloju in ATP 20 Apr 2018
  • Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov is live from Monte Carlo on Saturday, 21 April from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST
  • Nadal has won 10 of their 11 previous meetings
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Monte Carlo at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)
Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The imperious Rafael Nadal continues his quest for an eleventh Monte Carlo Masters title on Saturday when he takes on Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals

Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov ATP Monte Carlo Masters tennis is live from Monte Carlo on Saturday, 21 April from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST
Watch and bet on tennis live from Monte Carlo at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)

Even by Nadal's stratospheric standards, his start to the clay court season has been absolutely jaw-dropping, more so because he had spent over two months away from the tour nursing an injury sustained at the Australian Open. In a way, that time off is proving to be a blessing in disguise, as he has looked fresh, well-rested and very hungry since he returned to competition for Spain's Davis Cup victory over Germany in Valencia.

Nadal threw down the gauntlet with a crushing victory over Alexander Zverev in that Davis Cup tie, dismissing the world number four for the loss of just nine games, and he has carried on that form into Monte Carlo, dismantling the field on his way to the semi-finals. The scarier thing is that the King of Clay appears to be improving through the draw. After easing past Aljaz Bedene and Karen Khachanov in the opening two rounds, Nadal was expected to be tested by Dominic Thiem, the power-hitting Austrian who has established himself firmly as the second-best player on clay, and Nadal's biggest rival to the French Open title. Thiem, the only man to beat Nadal on clay last year, was coming off an impressive victory over Novak Djokovic, recovering from the loss of the first set to outlast the former world number one, but he was completely blown away by Nadal, as the Spaniard put on a clay-court demolition job to clear up any doubts, if any existed, on who's boss on this surface. On the evidence of what we have seen so far, this clay-court season looks set to be another Nadal procession. 

Thiem needed a near-perfect performance, the sort of which he produced in Rome last year, to get anywhere near Nadal, but he was well short of the required standards. The first serve percentage was well below par, taking away the opportunity to earn vital free points and dictate with his forehand. Instead, Nadal sank his teeth into every service game, attacking the Thiem backhand with his vicious topspin forehand and ripping cross-court backhands to devastating effect. There was no hiding place for Thiem.

At 0-6 0-3, the Austrian was staring down the barrel of an ignominious double bagel, but he finally held , drawing sympathetic applause from the Monte Carlo crowd. Thiem would go on to win one more game to add some respectability to the scoreline,

If Nadal could do that to Thiem, the supposed heir apparent to the Nadal's throne, where is the hope for the rest of the tour? 

"I think I played great", Nadal concluded. "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".

Grigor Dimitrov is next to be thrust into the line of fire, as he takes on the seemingly impossible task of dislodging the great Spaniard in Monte Carlo. 


Dimitrov reached the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time in his career following a dramatic 6-4 7-6 victory over David Goffin. 

Grigor Dimitrov. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
After dropping the first set, Goffin looked destined to force a decider when he opened up a 5-1 lead in the second, but Dimitrov launched a stirring comeback, winning five games in a row and saving three set points before closing out the set, and the match in the tie break. 

The Bulgarian had been taken the distance in each of his first two matches against Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Philipp Kohlschreiber, but he played arguably his best tennis of the tournament in the latter half of that second set to narrowly avoid a third successive three-set match.

In a repeat of their Nitto ATP Finals contest, Dimitrov dominated the early exchanges against Goffin, and despite failing to serve out the set at 5-3, the Bulgarian broke in the next game to take the opener after just 35 minutes. Goffin stepped up the aggression in the second set, and that, coupled with a drop in Dimitrov's level, allowed the Belgian to pull away, only to be pegged back as he approached the finish line. 

Dimitrov has now reached three semi-finals this season- in his 2018 opener in Brisbane, in Rotterdam where he made the final, and now, Monte Carlo. He also made the quarter finals of the Australian Open. These are decent returns, no doubt, but there is that feeling that the Bulgarian, who finished last year at No. 3 in the world having won his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati and claimed the Nitto ATP Finals title, has still got a couple of gears to switch through. 

He will definitely need to make that switch to the highest gear if he is to create any impression on Rafael Nadal on Saturday. 

“For sure he's the favourite, Dimitrov admitted. 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".

It's very difficult to see a path to success for Dimitrov. He basically needs Nadal to drop his level significantly if he is to have a chance of victory. The chances of that happening are very remote. Like most one-handed backhands, Dimitrov's single-hander is a sitting duck against Nadal's high-bouncing, spin-laden forehand on this surface, and to make matters worse, the great Spaniard is striking his backhand with great assurance. There is also the small matter of a shoulder injury for Dimitrov, who pulled out of a scheduled doubles match later in the day because of the problem.

It's a match-up Nadal has dominated over the years, winning ten of their previous 11 meetings, including all three encounters on clay. The King of Clay should continue his inexorable March towards another Monte Carlo crown on Saturday.

Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov is live from Monte Carlo on Saturday, 21 April from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST
Watch and bet on the match live at bet365 > live streaming > Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)


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Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov ATP Monte Carlo tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Ominous Nadal takes on Dimitrov in Monte Carlo semi

Rafael Nadal continues his quest for an eleventh Monte Carlo title when he plays Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday. Can anyone stop Nadal in Monte Carlo? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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