Starting from 2005, Rafael Nadal had been an undisputed Monte Carlo king, winning eight straight titles and losing another final in 2013 to Novak Djokovic. A year later, the Spaniard failed to reach the title match in the Principality for the first time since 2004 when he skipped the event, suffering a 7-6, 6-4 loss to David Ferrer in two hours and 14 minutes.
It was their 27th encounter on the Tour and the sixth triumph for the older Spaniard, the first on clay since their very first duel in Stuttgart 2004! Rafa reached the final in Miami Masters before earning two comfortable victories in Monte Carlo to advance into the last eight where he couldn't match Ferrer's numbers and win at least a set.
David played better on the second serve and fended off seven out of ten break chances, delivering four breaks from ten opportunities on the other hand to prevail in straight sets and secure the semi-final clash with Stan Wawrinka.
They had a similar number of winners and it was Nadal who sprayed much more unforced errors, unable to find the rhythm or to challenge the rival in the shortest rallies up to four strokes where Ferrer earned his triumph.
Rafa sprayed a forehand error in game two to give serve away, pulling it back after a 15-minute marathon in game three following a forced mistake from Ferrer to reduce the deficit and get back on the positive side of the scoreboard.
A double fault cost Nadal the fourth game before breaking back a few minutes later thanks to a forehand winner to extend the drama. The eight-time champion barely survived another break in the sixth game to level the score at 3-3, struggling behind the initial shot two games later as well but staying in contention.
In the 11th game, Ferrer fended off a break chance with a volley winner, in what was one of the crucial moments of the entire encounter before Nadal held at love to set up a tie break after almost 80 minutes! There, his serve let him down again, allowing David to grab the breaker 75 and gain a massive boost ahead of set number two.
After two easy holds on both sides, Ferrer clinched a break with a backhand winner to move 2-1 in front, cementing the break when Rafa sprayed a forehand error in the next game to take a big step towards the finish line. Another weak forehand from Nadal sent Ferrer 5-2 in front, with the older Spaniard serving for the triumph in the eighth game.
Ready to fight until the last point, Rafa pulled one break back at 15 and held with a service winner to move 4-5 behind. Serving for the win for the second time, David held at 30 in game ten to topple the great rival and move into the semis where he faced Stan Wawrinka.