Defending champion Rafael Nadal reached the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters for a 13th time after he defeated Dominic Thiem 6-0 6-2, underscoring his title credentials with yet another imperious performance.
Nadal needed just 68 minutes to demolish the world No.7 – who in the previous round had defeated Novak Djokovic in a lengthy three-set encounter – and kept alive his hopes of winning the tournament for the 11th time.
The Spaniard continued his remarkable resurgence since being forced to retire from his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic with a leg injury, and will meet world No.5 Grigor Dimitrov in the last four.
While it was widely expected that Nadal would prevail, the nonchalance with which he beat Thiem still came as a surprise to the capacity crowd, left in awe by the world No.1’s ability to control the play on his preferred surface.
The young Austrian offered some resistance in the second set and held serve trailing 3-1 to receive a roaring ovation, but it only delayed the inevitable.
“I played a great match – the best of the tournament,” Nadal said.
“I was very aggressive. I know that to play against Dominic, I can’t give him the chance to hit balls with time. I tried to do it, and today everything worked.
“It has been a great result for me, but it isn’t a normal result. He’s one of the best players of the world, especially on clay.”
Things were certainly not working, however, for second seed Cilic in the later quarter-final, as he was knocked out 6-4 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 by Kei Nishikori of Japan, who only recently returned from a right wrist injury.
Nishikori faces Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the other semi-final.
World No.4 Zverev celebrated his 21st birthday in style by fighting back from a set down to beat Richard Gasquet of France 4-6 6-2 7-5.
Happy 21st Sascha Zverev! ????????
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 20, 2018
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