In 2018, world no. 1 and the ten-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal advanced to his 12th final in the Principality in the previous 14 years after a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Grigor Dimitrov in an hour and 33 minutes. It was Nadal's 67th Monte Carlo win in 71 matches, extending the number of consecutive sets won on clay to 34 in another demonstration of his unmatched dominance on the slowest surface.
Dimitrov fought well in the opening set that lasted for over an hour before Nadal broke his resistance in set number two, sailing through the final and beating Grigor for the 11th time in 12 encounters. We didn't see too many winners on either side, but it was a great battle in the first 60 minutes before Nadal raised his level to leave the Bulgarian far behind.
Rafa served well, dropping 18 points in nine service games and playing 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, especially after the crumble that we saw from him in set number two.
The Bulgarian struggled to find the pace with his second serve, giving away over half of the points in his games, offering eight break chances to Rafa and getting broken four times. Nadal held after deuce in the opening game and grabbed a break in the second after a forehand winner.
Nonetheless, they needed 15 minutes to complete the opening two games, and Grigor was there to fight, firing an ace in game four to get his name on the scoreboard.
In 2018, Rafael Nadal sailed past Grigor Dimitrov in the Monte Carlo semi-final.
He managed to overcome the deficit and break back in the next one after one of Nadal's worst service games of the entire week, spraying a backhand error to bring Dimitrov back on the positive side of the scoreboard.
The Bulgarian fended off a break point in game six with another solid attack and another at 3-4 after Nadal's forehand error. Rafa served well after suffering that break and kept the pressure on his rival, who served to stay in the set at 4-5.
Grigor couldn't deal with it, and Nadal had 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, and everything was much more comfortable for him in the rest of the clash, gathering momentum and sailing towards the finish line.
Like in the opener, the defending champion held after deuce at the beginning of the second set and took a big step towards 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, netting 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 another comfortable hold and the triumph, looking good to lift his 11th Monte Carlo trophy against Kei Nishikori.
Rafael Nadal's unawareness of a fractured rib
After Rafael Nadal in 2022, Carlos Alcaraz also set to play exhibition in Mexico
The candidates for the Tennis Hall of Fame: there's Rafael Nadal's coach
Nick Kyrgios' failed mission - Beating Rafael Nadal
Rod Laver addresses Rafael Nadal targeting post-surgery comeback in 2024
Roger Federer beats Rafael Nadal to set a new tennis record!