The 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal is safely through into the quarter-final thanks to a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Grigor Dimitrov in an hour and 36 minutes. Rafa and Grigor have met for the 13th time and the Spaniard claimed the 12th win, losing serve once and conquering four breaks to race into the last eight and deliver the 70th triumph from 74 encounters in the Principality.
Rafa is the first player with 70 victories at Masters 1000 event and is yet to drop a set at one of his favorite courts since the first round clash against Kyle Edmund in 2017. Grigor has lost the form completely in the last 15 months or so, struggling with injuries and battling for every win this season after dealing with a right shoulder injury.
He fought well in the opening set, bouncing back from a 4-1 down before Rafa grabbed another break in game nine and dominated in the rest of the encounter to secure the place in the 88th Masters 1000 quarter-final, the 15th in a row in Monte Carlo!
They had a similar number of winners and unforced errors, with Nadal's triumph resting in the other elements, mainly his first serve that worked like a charm. The Spaniard had to play against only two break points and one break of serve wasn't enough for Grigor to stay in the encounter longer, losing the edge in the shortest points up to four strokes and suffering four breaks to end his run in the third round after competing against Rafa in the semis here a year ago.
Nadal wasted two break points in the second game of the match before drawing first blood two games later when Grigor sprayed a backhand error to move 3-1 up. The Spaniard held the strings of the encounter firmly in his hands before losing the ground a little bit, unable to overpower Grigor who bounced back with a break in game seven when Rafa's forehand landed long.
Avoiding further troubles or more extended set, the Spaniard held at 30 in game nine and clinched the second break a few minutes later for a 6-4 in just under an hour when the Bulgarian sent a forehand wide. Dominating in his service games in set number two, Rafa was never in doubt and he broke in game two after a loose forehand from Dimitrov who fell 5-1 down after a strong backhand from Rafa that he failed to control.
Serving for the win in game seven, Nadal forced an error from his opponent to seal the deal and notch another rock-solid Monte Carlo win, staying on the course for the 12th title in the Principality.