Sunday, 22 April 2018

Nadal and Nishikori finalists in Monte Carlo

Semi final day in the Monte Carlo Masters provided Rafa Nadal (1) with his 34th successive set win on clay, a record achieved on his way to a 12th final in Monaco (10 wins 1 loss so far)

His latest victim is Grigor Dimitrov (4) who traded breaks with the top seed in the opening set to sit at 4-4.  Rafa was tiring of his time being wasted, and decided to take advantage of his excellent returning of the Bulgarian second serve, to break for a second time.  Of course two double faults from Grigor were a terrific help.

No aces but just a single double fault, and Nadal served it out .6-4.

The second set saw Dimitrov bowing to the clay king, as his second serve continued to be plundered.  Nadal only needed to create two break points, using both to seize a win 6-4 6-1.

26 points to 11 was the second set damage caused to Grigor.

It looked as though Sascha Zverev (3) would be the final gate for Nadal to open and enter to claim an eleventh title here, after reaching a first lead over Kei Nishikori 6-3.  It took a fair deal of time and effort, and thanks a fair deal to his serving, which was winning him points but relying too much on his second delivery.

Ultimately, the quality of Zverev’s powerful all court game was the key factor splitting the two.

Set two, and the serving woes of the German continued and his second serve could not save him.  Nishikori cleverly placed his shots and claimed 14 of the 20 points offered when Zverev was required to enter into play a secondary ball.

Whilst the Japanese number one dropped his serve once off the solitary chance Zverev had, Nishikori broke Sascha three times and levelled the match at a set all.

Zverev achieved a much better first serve percentage in the final set, yet Nishikori was still winning eight of eleven points from the second serve.  On his own second serve, Nishikori was winning 75% of the points.

At 4-5, Zverev was ahead in the game and ready to level at 5-5, but then came a series of rallies where Nishikori gave another demonstration of his tennis smarts.  He played Zverev all around the court to bring it deuce.  Next, two drop shots brought Zverev running towards the net in a futile attempt to win the points.  Zverev made ground to both but was then out of position, losing out and leaving Nishikori with a break of serve and the match win.

Rafa Nadal (1) v Kei Nishikori is the final

Rafa leads 9-2 in head to head battles, but those two wins for Nishikori have come in the past 4 meetings, including the last time the pair met.  It was on a hard court in the 2016 Rio Olympics.  This will be tougher, with Rafa on his favourite surface.

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