Alexander Zverev celebrated his 19th birthday with a hard-fought win over 15th Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 6-7 7-5. He’ll face Malek Jaziri in the third round.
2-time defending champion Kei Nishikori started his 2016 clay court campaign with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Thiemo de Bakker. His next opponent is Jérémy Chardy.
Rafa is back in the winners’ circle! Nadal claimed his 9th Monte Carlo title, as he defeated Gael Monfils 7-5 5-7 6-0 in an exciting final. He has now won 48 clay court titles, just one short of Guillermo Vilas’ record.
The victory here confirms that I am better and I am very happy, no? Is very, very emotional week for me, very important event. Probably Monte-Carlo is one of the most important places in my career without any doubt.
Win again here after three years is something so special for me. So very happy for that.
Check out our Monte Carlo 2016 coverage.
Outplayed by Murray in the fist set, Nadal fought back to level the match at one set all, and for an hour it seemed the old Rafa, winner of 9 Roland Garros titles was back. Andy lost it mentally in the third, and Rafa won 2-6 6-4 6-2 in 2 hours and 43 minutes.
“I think I played a great second set in terms of mentality. In the third set, I played aggressive… It was a great match. It’s a very important week for me, being in a final here again in Monte-Carlo, winning against very tough opponents.”
Nadal will play Gael Monfils in the final.
From 25 years of the Tennis Europe Junior Tour:
I never played against Rafa (in juniors) except in doubles. We played the deciding match of the Winter Cups ties on an indoor court. I was playing with Jamie Baker and he was playing with Marcel Granollers, and we lost. I beat Granollers in the singles, Nadal beat Matt Brown in the second singles and then we lost the deciding doubles. But I never played him in singles until we met as pros.
Does that defeat still hurt?
[laughs] Not so much, no. I’ve lost a couple of matches to him since then that have hurt more, but at the time it was definitely a pity.