Nadal battles past Pella into 14th Monte Carlo semi-final

Nadal battles past Pella into 14th Monte Carlo semi-final

Although Nadal still gave Fognini credit, he described his performance as "one of my worst matches on clay in 14 years" and said he "deserved to lose". "But you have to be ready to accept the negative things and today was a negative day". "It's hard to find an explanation". And Fognini came so close to doing just that.

Fognini has lost 11 of 14 matches against Nadal, but two of the Italian's three wins were on clay. "I don't know how many are coming tomorrow".

"Novak played worse here than the times before", Medvedev said. Pella was on the brink of taking a 5-1 lead in the first set but Nadal managed to fight back to take the set 7-6 in the tiebreaker and eventually the match 7-6, 6-3.

"He improved his movement a lot since past year", said Djokovic.

Victory for Fognini ended Nadal's 18-match winning run in Monte Carlo and ensures the final includes two players making their debuts at that stage.

That match was a suitable appetizer to the higher drama which followed.

Pella, 28, four times a beaten clay court finalist before he captured his first ATP title on the same surface at last month's Brazil Open, was then broken in the first game of the next.

In his quarterfinal and semifinal combined, Nadal conceded 23 break-point chances.

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Rafael Nadal recovered from a sluggish start to reach the last four.

The 31-year-old, victor of the event in 2013 and 2015, lost to the world number 14 in two hours, 20 minutes.

Saturday's match started in hard conditions, with a heavy wind coming in from the Mediterranean blowing clay around the court. But the world No. 2 broke back and held serve, before Fognini served out the match on his second attempt.

Momentum was on Fognini's side, not to mention some luck. Lajovic trailed 3-0 and 5-1 in the opening set before going through the gears.

At times it looked like Djokovic would take control and he clinched the second set with two aces.

Rafael Nadal will take on Fabio Fognini in a much-awaited semifinal clash of the Monte Carlo Masters 2019 at the Monte Carlo Country Club on April 20.

"The chair umpire made a bad call, " Fognini said.

Medvedev was favored to reach the final after eliminating Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, but world number 48 Lajovic showcased remarkable powers of recovery to claim the victory despite trailing 5-1 in the opening set. But after saving one match point, the Russian player tamely hit a return long on his opponent's next opportunity.

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