In 2018, world no. 1 and ten-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal advanced to his 12th final in the Principality in the previous 14 years. Rafa scored a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Grigor Dimitrov in an hour and 33 minutes for his 67th victory from 71 matches at this event.
Nadal extended the number of consecutive sets won on clay to 34 to demonstrate his unmatched dominance on the slowest surface. Dimitrov fought well in the opening set, which lasted over an hour before Nadal broke his resistance in set number two.
The Spaniard sailed into the final and beat the Bulgarian for the 11th time in 12 encounters. We saw few winners on either side. Still, it was a great battle in the first 60 minutes before Nadal raised his level to leave Dimitrov far behind.
Rafa served well, dropping 18 points in nine service games and experiencing only one loose game when he got broken in the opening set. Grigor created two break chances, and one break of serve was far from enough to keep him in touch longer.
The Bulgarian struggled to find the pace with his second serve. He gave away over half of the points in his games to offer eight break chances to Rafa and suffer four breaks. Nadal held after deuce in the encounter's opening game and grabbed a break in the second thanks to a forehand winner.
They needed 15 minutes to complete the opening two games, and Grigor was there to fight. He fired an ace in game four to reduce the deficit and get his name on the scoreboard.
Rafael Nadal sailed past Grigor Dimitrov in the 2018 Monte Carlo semi-final.
Dimitrov overcame the deficit and broke back in the next one after one of Nadal's worst service games of the entire week.
The Spaniard sprayed a backhand error to bring the Bulgarian back on the positive side. Grigor fended off a break chance in game six with another solid attack and survived one more at 3-4 after Rafa's forehand error. Nadal served well after suffering that break and kept the pressure on his rival.
Grigor could not deal with stress at 4-5, and Nadal earned two set points after his rival's two double faults and a forehand mistake. The Spaniard sealed the deal with a forehand down the line winner after a grueling 61 minutes, gathering momentum and looking good to seal the deal in straight sets.
The defending champion held after deuce at the beginning of the second set and took a big step toward the finish line after breaking Grigor at love in game two. A service winner sent Nadal 3-0 up, and Dimitrov faded from the court.
He netted a forehand in game four to lose serve at love for the second time in a row. Rafa forced Grigor's error in the seventh game to wrap up the triumph and march into the final.