Rafael Nadal misses a chance to pass Roger Federer's record

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Rafael Nadal misses a chance to pass Roger Federer's record

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the only players with 70 matches played at a single Masters 1000 event. Roger has achieved that in Indian Wells and Miami, and Rafa added his name to the list with a notable performance in Monte Carlo, Rome and Indian Wells.

Two legends stand on 79 matches at their most productive Masters 1000 tournaments, with Federer reaching that number in Indian Wells and Nadal in Monte Carlo. Nadal could become the only player with 80 encounters at a single Masters 1000 event this week in Monte Carlo.

Still, he could not compete at one of his favorite stops on the Tour after experiencing a fractured rib during the Indian Wells campaign.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer share the Masters 1000 record.

Nadal made the Monte Carlo debut in 2003 at 16 and scored two victories as a qualifier to kick off his incredible journey.

Two years later, the Spaniard claimed the first title at 18, and he remained undefeated until the 2013 final, securing 46 consecutive victories and a place in the record books. Rafa bounced back between 2016 and 2018 with three more titles in the Principality before losing ground a bit in the last couple of seasons.

Monte Carlo closed its gates in 2020 due to the pandemic, and Nadal failed to play the 80th match at this event last year. The Spaniard claimed two commanding victories over Federico Delbonis and Grigor Dimitrov to sail into the quarter-final and move closer to a record.

Still, Andrey Rublev proved too strong for the king of clay and beat him 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 32 minutes. It was Nadal's earliest Monte Carlo loss since 2014. Rublev squandered the advantage in the second set but bounced back stronger in the third to cross the finish line in style.

Rublev stole Nadal's serve seven times, dominating the scoreboard in sets one and three and delivering one of his most cherished victories. Like in 2019 against Fabio Fognini, Nadal was miles from his best, spraying too many double faults and failing to match Rublev's pace to hit the exit door. Nadal should become the first player with 80 matches at a single Masters 1000 event if he enters the draw next April.