Nadal Sets Murray SF Clash

Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal will face Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters after sweeping past 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-4 on Friday.

It will be the third time that Nadal and Murray have met in the semi-finals at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, with Nadal winning their contests in 2009 and 2011. Nadal leads their overall head-to-head 16-6, but it was Murray who won their last clay-court meeting, in the Madrid final last year.

“He played a great match today,” said Nadal of Murray, who dismissed Milos Raonic for the loss of just two games. “We’ll see. I need to be ready to play the way I am playing the past two matches. If I am able to do it, I hope to have my chances.”

The 29-year-old Nadal is looking to win the Monte-Carlo crown for the ninth time this week. The Spaniard set a tournament record 46-match winning run as he claimed eight straight titles from 2005-2012, before his streak ended in the 2013 final against Novak Djokovic.

Nadal passed a stern test in Dominic Thiem in the third round on Thursday and raised his level yet again when faced with the fourth-seeded Wawrinka, who captured his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in Monte-Carlo in 2014 (d. Federer).

The Spaniard improved to a 15-3 record over Wawrinka as he sped to victory in 68 minutes. Nadal broke serve four times and won 73 per cent of his service points as he notched his 56th victory in Monte-Carlo.

“The beginning of the match and the second set was a good match, in my opinion,” said Nadal. “We both played good points. I think he made more mistakes than me. But it is true at the same time he was going more for the shots all the time. When you want to play this way, very aggressive, you can have mistakes.

“I think I played good. I defended well. I moved well. When I had the opportunity, I was trying to have the control of the point with my forehand and with my backhand, too. I am very happy the way that I played.”

“It was not a good day,” said Wawrinka. “We can say this. I rushed at the beginning. I wasn’t able to put my game into place. This is something you pay for against Rafa.

“I really need to work on two or three things that I want to improve. I have two weeks, or a bit more, before I go to Madrid. I will try to prepare well during that period.”

Nadal is bidding to win his first title of the season and draw level with Djokovic by capturing his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. The left-hander will play his fifth semi-final of the season; he went on to finish runner-up in Doha (l. to Djokovic).

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