Rafael Nadal is back in the Monte Carlo Masters final again…
Despite his injury concerns, the 26-year-old Spanish tennis star will be vying for his ninth successive Monte Carlo title after defeating France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the semi-finals.
Nadal will next meet World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Sunday for the 16th time in a championship. Nadal leads 8-7 in their finals matches.
Nadal can improve upon his formidable record on the Monte Carlo red clay — winner of the last eight titles and 46 consecutive match victories.
Nadal has reached five successive finals since returning from a seven-month layoff for a left knee injury. He will go for his fourth title of the season against Djokovic, who cruised past unseeded Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-2, 6-1.
Djokovic and Nadal have not played against each other since last year’s French Open final, which Nadal won. He has won their last three encounters, after Djokovic took the previous seven — all of which were tournament finals. Nadal leads their head-to-head contests 19-14.
Nadal has been on a winning roll at Monte Carlo since 2005. His last loss here was to former French Open champ Guillermo Coria in 2003, and he missed the following year because of injury.
He insists he’s still some way from full fitness, despite dropping only one set so far.
“I know I need time to be 100 percent fit,” said Nadal, adding he thinks Djokovic’s injury was tame by comparison. “He stopped for, what, a few days for his ankle?”