Rafael Nadal advanced to his tenth Monte Carlo final in 2016 thanks to a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Andy Murray in one of the season's best matches! Both players gave everything they had in the encounter that lasted two hours and 43 minutes, with Nadal prevailing after playing better tennis in sets two and three.
Thus, the Spaniard advanced to the 100th ATP final in a career, becoming the sixth player in the Open era to achieve that feat after Jimmy Connors, Guillermo Vilas, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Roger Federer. Nadal also joined Federer on 42 Masters 1000 finals and tried to match Novak Djokovic's 28 titles.
It was the 23rd meeting between two great rivals, and Nadal claimed the 17th victory. He lost to Murray on clay for the first time in Madrid a year ago and had to work hard in this one after Andy's almost flawless tennis in the opening set.
Everyone expected a long and tight encounter between two of the finest clay courters. Still, the first set passed in Murray's domination, as he won it 6-2 after 49 minutes. Andy controlled the points marvelously, keeping Rafa behind the baseline and without a chance of imposing his strokes.
The first break came in the sixth game when Murray went 4-2 up to control the scoreboard. The Briton took the remaining two games and wrapped up the set with a double break. He dictated the points with 13 winners and 15 unforced errors, while Nadal left stuck on only five winners and 15 mistakes.
Rafael Nadal beat Andy Murray in Monte Carlo 2016 for ATP final No. 100.
The Spaniard's most worrying thing was that he served at an outstanding 81% and still lost half of the points in his games, unable to find the rhythm or take the upper hand in the exchanges.
Rafa came closer to the baseline in the second set and became more aggressive and determined. He pressed Murray's forehand side with immediate results and started dictating the exchanges. Andy's first serve percentage dropped to 38%, offering Nadal more return chances and momentum.
The Spaniard opened the set in the best way, breaking Murray for the first time in the match before the Briton pulled it back on his third opportunity for 1-1. After four comfortable holds on both sides, Nadal delivered another good return game to break Andy and move 4-3 up before fending off two break chances in the next one to confirm the advantage.
Andy held in the ninth game on the fifth game point, and Rafa brought the next one home for 6-4 after precisely two hours. The second set's outcome gave Nadal a massive boost, and he had the upper hand in the decider. The Spaniard found the right spots from every part of the court and claimed some great rallies to keep his confidence high and send the pressure to the other side.
Andy struggled to find the first serve and got broken in the opening game to chase the result right from the start. Nadal was now flying over the court, taking 16 points in a row behind the initial shot and not giving the Briton a chance to get back on the scoreboard.
Rafa broke at love in game five to open a 4-1 gap and crack Andy's resistance completely. Nadal served for the victory at 5-2 and wasted four match points before Murray earned two break chances to prolong the encounter.
He could not convert any of them, and Nadal sealed the deal after five deuces to propel himself into the tenth Monte Carlo final in the last 12 years!