Nadal beats Davydenko to reach Monte Carlo

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Rafael Nadal made history at the Monte Carlo Masters after winning a fourth straight title.

28 April 2008

MONTE CARLO - Three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-2 Saturday to reach the Monte Carlo Masters final for the fourth straight year.

The second-seeded Nadal has not lost a set at Monte Carlo since beating Roger Federer in the 2006 final, and is on course to play the top-ranked Swiss in the decider for the third straight year. Federer played No. 3 Novak Djokovic later.

Davydenko's clever angles and ability to sustain rallies troubled Nadal, but the Russian was unable to take his chances, converting only one of five break points. In contrast, Nadal broke Davydenko five times from seven chances.

"Every point is a long rally," Davydenko said. "Nadal is very tough, physically he is in a top condition."

The Spaniard won the match when Davydenko's attempt at a forehand winner went long.

Nadal's last defeat at Monte Carlo came in the third round against Guillermo Coria five years ago. The Spaniard missed 2004 through injury and since has won 21 straight matches.

Nadal took the first set by breaking Davydenko's serve when the Russian hit a forehand wide from the baseline.

Nadal got another break to go up 3-1 in the second but Davydenko broke right back, and then lost his serve again to trail 4-2.

In the seventh game, Davydenko played some of his best tennis of the tournament, pinning Nadal to the baseline and hitting winners down the line off his strong forehand. But he missed three break points, and then complained that the tournament balls slowed down his game.

"The balls are more heavy," he said. "I didn't hit so fast."

Davydenko can still be pleased with his start to the season, after beating Nadal for the title at Key Biscayne and then losing last week's final at Estoril against Federer when he retired with a leg injury.

"For me it was a good week, semi-final here," Davydenko said. "Now I prepare for Rome."

[AP / Expatica]

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