Rafael Nadal will compete in his 100th ATP World Tour final when he takes on Gael Monfils for the Monte Carlo Masters title on Sunday. The Spaniard got past Andy Murray in the last four to become just the sixth man in the Open Era to make it into triple figures in finals and kick start his preparations for next month’s French Open.
“It is a great feeling,” Nadal said. “It’s a very important week for me, being in a final here again in Monte Carlo, winning against very tough opponents. That’s a lot of great confidence, good news for me. Let’s see if tomorrow I can playing at the same level.
“I am trying my best every single day. I want to be today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today, and after tomorrow better than tomorrow. That’s it. That’s my work today, and that’s my motivation.”
It has been a difficult start to the year for Nadal, having not made a final since the opening tournament of the season and losing in the first round of the Australian Open and at the Miami Masters last month. But he has produced his best result so far at the start of his favorite part of the calendar, and at a tournament in which he has has enjoyed unprecedented success in his career.
Nadal won the title in Monte Carlo for a record eight straight years between 2005 and 2012. And he is now back in the final after a fine comeback win over Murray on Saturday. Nadal dropped the opening set against the world No. 2, but gradually upped his game, stepping into the court and dictating play to win 2-6 6-4 6-2.
While one landmark has already been reached with that victory, Nadal can clinch a further milestone with a win on Sunday. It would give Nadal a 28th Masters 1000 title, taking him level once again with Novak Djokovic for the most ever.
It was Djokovic who ended Nadal’s dominance in Monte Carlo with victory over him in the 2013 final. But there will be no Djokovic awaiting in the final this year after the world No. 1 suffered a shock defeat, his first in a completed match this year, in his opening match.
Monfils has taken full advantage of the Serbian’s exit. After beating Djokovic’s conqueror Jiri Vesely in the next round, the charismatic Frenchman has continued to ease through the draw without dropping a set. On Saturday, he again impressed, triumphing 6-1 6-3 over his compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“It’s always tough to play against French guys,” Monfils said after securing victory in just 70 minutes. “This one was a tough one for Jo, but I feel I played very good. Definitely was expecting a little bit slight tougher.”
The victory takes Monfils through to just his third Masters 1000 final, and his first in almost six years. But in order to land his first title in one of the ATP Tour’s nine most prestigious events the 13th seed must now improve on a 2-11 head-to-head record against Nadal. Monfils’ last victory came more than four years ago and he has lost all four meetings with the nine-time French Open champion on clay, never even winning more than four games in a set.
Monte Carlos Masters final info
Start time: Not before 8:30 a.m. EDT, following the completion of the doubles final
TV channel: Tennis Channel
Live stream: Tennis Channel Everywhere