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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday April 16, 2021

 
Andrey Rublev

Andrey Rublev stunned Rafael Nadal in three sets on Friday in Monte-Carlo to reach the semi-finals for the first time.

Photo Source: Getty

Russia’s Andrey Rublev has climbed the clay-court mountain.

The 23-year-old World No.8 took out King of Clay Rafael Nadal in three gripping sets on Friday, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and hand 11-time champion Nadal just his sixth career loss at the event that he has owned over the past 15 years.

Tennis Express


Rublev broke Nadal seven times in the contest and joins Novak Djokovic (twice), Guillermo Coria, David Ferrer and Fabio Fognini in the group of players to have taken down Nadal at Monte-Carlo.

Rublev says that it was his mental clarity that helped him get over the finish line, especially after dropping a second set in which he had multiple opportunities to convert for a double-break lead.

"I would say this week I am controlling really well my emotions. At the end that's the key," he said. "If I would show a bit emotion, for sure I would lose. Same thing today with Rafa. If after the second set I would say something or if I would show emotions, for sure the third set will be over, will be 6-2 for him. So I'm happy that I could handle it."

Nadal drops to 73-6 lifetime at Monte-Carlo, while Rublev improves to 7-1 at Masters 1000 events in 2021. It's a nice step for the Russian, as he entered the season with a 14-21 Masters 1000 record.

It was the serve that gave him the most trouble during the match, and afterwards Nadal talked about his difficulties.

"For some reason I had problems with my serve," he said. "I don't know understand why because I was not having problems on the practices at all. But today was one of these days that my serve was a disaster. Serving like this, the serve creates an impact on the rest of the game. When you serve with no confidence, you are just focus on try to serve, not think about how you want to play the ball. You just think about what you have to do with the serve to put the ball in. Then you have problems continue and prepare the point the right way, no?"

The Spaniard gave it everything he could after falling behind by a set. He twice saved break points that would have seen Rublev lead by a double-break in set two, and eventually claimed the scintillating set, 6-4.


"I fighted, yeah," he said. "That's the positive thing, I was there. But you can't expect win against a player like him losing my serve I don't know how many times, but too many. No chance like this. Six, seven times? It's too much. He played well. That's true. He played great. He played aggressive, as I knew. Well done for him. Happy for him. He's a great guy. Wish him all the best."

But Rublev would not be denied. He didn’t hang his head, instead he kept taking the fight to Nadal and ended up running away with the final set to clinch his first career victory in three tries over Nadal.

The Russian will face Casper Ruud for a spot in his first Masters 1000 final on Saturday, while Stefano Tsitsipas and Dan Evans will clash in the top half semifinal.

 

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