In a tournament where the court has dictated its terms against the top seeded players, will the finals witness the same story or will Nadal yet again do the unprecedented?
Rafael Nadal, the fourth seeded player already has a legacy of being the nine time champion in Monte Carlo. This 30-year-old Spaniard is now one win away from becoming the first man to earn 10 tournament titles. He is a man with power and determination. His presence on court is immense. It will be a herculean task for a player who attempts to deny him his ‘la Decima’, his tenth crown.
In the semifinals, Nadal defeated David Goffin with 6-3 6-1. The Belgian, who had recorded the biggest win of his career against second seed and two-time former champion Novak Djokovic on Friday, began with an early break and was under control of the court. But Nadal wasn’t going to have any of it and he quickly recovered.
The game changing moment was when the umpire, Cedric Mourier, got down to overrule a Nadal forehand as having hit the line. Goffin was infuriated by the decision, stating it was the wrong mark. It was a crucial point for Goffin as he had the advantage. The game was then eventually won by Nadal, breaking his serve and levelling the match at 3-3. From there on out, it was a slippery slope and Goffin couldn’t manage to win a single game.
The second set was everything Nadal could hope for. He was playing a strong game, he completely dominated Goffin mentally. Goffin had lost his rhythm and momentum after the little incident with the umpire, and became Nadal’s dinner. Arguably the match could have gone either way had the decision been the correct one. It ended the hope of the Belgian to reach his first Masters finals.
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Now that Nadal is in the finals, he will now face fellow Spaniard, World No. 24 Ramos-Vinolas who earlier in the semi-finals defeated the local favourite Lucas Pouille 6-3 5-7 6-1. Clay-court specialist, 15th-seeder, who beat world number one Andy Murray and fifth seed Marin Cilic en route to the semi-finals will have a tough time battling the King of Clay. His match against Pouille was an absolute treat. Ramos-Vinolas should grit and perseverance throughout the game. He played a consistent match in all the three sets, and one can see that he gave it his all. He never came under pressure from French but rather he took charge of the court like a raging bull.
The finals will determine whether Nadal could break the curse and finally win at his fourth final of the year. Could he clinch the record 50th clay court win with his triumph over Ramos-Vinolas? Or would Ramos-Vinolas mark his first ever title on Sunday?