After battling for the title in the Principality in 2006 and 2007, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were the main actors in Monte Carlo again in 2008, forging the third straight final at the season's first clay Masters 1000 event.
Nadal claimed the first Monte Carlo crown in 2005 at 18, prevailing over Guillermo Coria and starting his reign at the prestigious tournament that has carried him towards 11 trophies. Rafa returned in 2008 as the three-time champion and produced another stellar ride to lift the fourth straight title, beating Roger Federer 7-5, 7-5 in an hour and 43 minutes, earning the 22nd consecutive victory at the French Riviera.
Rafa faced Mario Ancic, Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Ferrer and Nikolay Davydenko in the previous rounds, dropping 19 games in eight sets and setting the 15th clash with world no. 1 Roger Federer. In their eighth encounter on clay, Nadal grabbed the seventh triumph and the tenth against the Swiss, standing strong in the decisive moments to topple the rival who stayed empty-handed for the third straight year at this event.
Rafa served at 81%, delivering better performance on the second serve despite getting broken four times from Roger's five opportunities. Those four breaks were not enough to keep the Swiss safe and give him at least one set, struggling big time after missing the first serve and allowing Nadal to grab six breaks from seven chances (they saved only two out of 12 break points in total).
Federer had more winners but at the cost of over 35 unforced errors, unable to tame his shots in the way he wanted and losing ground to Rafa in the more extended rallies to finish runner-up. The Spaniard sprayed a forehand error to suffer a break at love in the first game, drawing Roger's error in game two to pull it back and level the score at 1-1.
Rafael Nadal erased deficit in both sets to beat Roger Federer in Monte Carlo 2008.
Federer forced Nadal's mistake in the sixth game to save a break chance and stay on the positive side of the scoreboard, delivering a break at 15 after a well-constructed attack in the next one to forge the advantage and open a 4-3 gap.
Staying calm, Rafa erased the deficit in the next game after a lucky net cord and held at 15 to move ahead, forcing Federer to serve to extend the set. The Swiss held after deuce and had to do the same at 5-6 following Rafa's another comfortable hold in game 11 thanks to a forehand winner.
The defending champion was ready to make the final push, landing a perfect slice winner to secure a break at 15 and clinch the opener 7-5 after 50 minutes. Roger started the second set with a break at 30 and held in game two before securing another break after forcing Nadal's mistake to gain a massive 3-0 advantage.
The Swiss fired an ace to wrap up another excellent game, extending the lead and looking good to force a decider against the rival who lost rhythm and momentum. Still, the Spaniard was ready to give his best and try to extend the set, pulling one break back in game six when Federer sprayed a forehand error and moving even closer after a hold at love a few minutes later.
Losing ground, Roger sent a backhand wide in the eighth game to give serve away for the second straight time, allowing Nadal to complete a comeback and race in front with another comfortable hold. Serving to stay in the encounter, Federer brought the tenth game home with a perfect volley winner, with Nadal hitting one as well a few minutes later for a hold at love and a 6-5 advantage.
Hoping to reach the tie break, Roger squandered two game points in the 12th game and got broken when his backhand landed beyond the baseline, handing another title to Nadal and still failing to lift the Monte Carlo trophy despite all the efforts in the last couple of years.