Nadal reaches 5th Monte Carlo Masters final

Updated: 19 April 2009 18:11 IST

Rafael Nadal beat fourth-seeded Andy Murray 6-2, 7-6 (4) on Saturday to reach the final of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal reaches 5th Monte Carlo Masters final

Monaco:

Rafael Nadal beat fourth-seeded Andy Murray 6-2, 7-6 (4) on Saturday to reach the final of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal next meets the third-seeded Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final. The Serbian player rallied from a set down to beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Nadal extended his winning streak at Monte Carlo to 26 matches and stayed on course for a fifth straight title. The top-ranked Spaniard has not dropped a set at the tournament since the 2006 final against Roger Federer.

Murray rallied from 5-2 down in the second set Saturday to push Nadal to play his best tennis after cruising in the first set.

"I think he's the greatest clay court player ever," Murray said. "At the start I made too many mistakes. I was trying to hit too many winners from the wrong position. Then at the end of the match I started to play properly."

Murray was pushed three meters behind the baseline at times, but this defensive strategy afforded him little opportunity to attack Nadal in the opening set.

He began the second more aggressively and held his serve at love with a perfect drop shot at 30-0 and a backhand winner on his next point.

The match appeared wrapped up for Nadal at 5-2, but Murray roared back with some phenomenal winners that not even the speedy Nadal could chase down.

Murray held and then pegged Nadal behind the baseline, finally converting a break point with a smash that got him back to 5-4.

"To beat him you have to play great for three, five sets because he's so solid," Murray said. "If you give him one chance, he's one of the best, probably the best, at taking them."

The match appeared wrapped up for Nadal at 5-2, but Murray roared back with some phenomenal winners that not even the speedy Nadal could chase down.

The players forced a tiebreaker which featured one 29-stroke rally that Nadal won with a forehand winner into the corner for a 5-3 lead. Another long rally went Nadal's way when he found a narrow angle to hit a crosscourt winner for 6-4. He then clinched the match when Murray hit a backhand into the net.

Still, Murray was pleased with having reached a semifinal on clay for the first time in his career.

"I've obviously learnt a lot this week," he said. "The way I played at the end will give me a great indication of how I need to play."

Djokovic, a French Open semifinalist the past two years, reached his first Monte Carlo final. The Serb raised his game after a shaky start in the third set, while Wawrinka's play was littered with too many unforced errors.

After going a break down and trailing 2-0 in the decider, Djokovic won the next four games and then closed out the match on his third match point with a forehand winner into the corner.

"I am very frustrated and disappointed. I was up 2-0 and I had the opportunity to go up (3-0)," Wawrinka said. "I lost that game and the game at 2-2. These two games made me lose the match."

Djokovic set up match point when he returned Wawrinka's angled shot to the baseline with a stunning backhand down the line.

Serving at 5-3 down, Wawrinka went 15-40 down on his serve before saving two match points. However, Djokovic immdiately secured another chance and converted it with a flamboyant forehand.

Wawrinka has now lost six of his eight meetings with Djokovic, including the last five. He lost to Djokovic in the Rome Masters final last year on clay, and recently on the hard courts at Indian Wells, California.

Djokovic looked shaky in the first set, making only 43 percent of his first serves. Wawrinka broke him in the ninth game when Djokovic sliced a return into the net and held serve to take the first set in just under an hour.



Topics : Tennis Andy Roddick Lukas Dlouhy Rohan Bopanna Leander Paes Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi Maria Sharapova
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