Millennium Post

Nadal downs Dimitrov to enter semis

Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal was taken to the brink by Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov before completing a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory on Friday to reach the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals.

Nadal, who made an unusual number of errors and looked uncomfortable throughout against his 21-year-old opponent, slowly ground him down and fired an ace to clinch his 45th successive victory at the first big claycourt event of the season.

The Spaniard now has a 47-1 win-loss record at the glamorous venue and will next face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the last four for the first time.

The straight-laced crowd, for once reluctant to support Nadal with Dimitrov threatening to pull off a shock win, stood up to cheer the 34th-ranked Bulgarian as he left the court after a thrilling performance.

Nadal had his share of applause after setting up a semifinal against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who opened the a chilly grey day by the Mediterranean with a powerful 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka. Tsonga ended with his sixth ace in a match where he fended off 10 Wawrinka break points from 12 chances for the Swiss.

‘Stan made me work for this win as he saved all those match points,’ said Tsonga. ‘I’m just glad to get to the semifinals.’

World number one Novak Djokovic, still recovering from a sprained ankle, was scheduled to meet Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen and seventh seed Richard Gasquet of France faces Italian Fabio Fognini.
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