Rafael Nadal overcame a slow start to complete a convincing win over Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the third round of the 2019 Monte-Carlo Masters on Thursday.
Dimitrov broke back after Nadal had an early break in the first set to level the set at 4-4. That was as close as he got, however, to challenging the second seeded Spaniard, before going down 4-6, 1-6 to the 11-time champion.
This was the third time that Nadal had gone on to defeat Dimitrov, after wins in 2013 and last season, and with this victory he made it through to the quarter-final for the 15th time.
He will now take on Argentina’s Guido Pella for a place in the last-four. The Argentine needed three sets but overcame Marco Cecchinato to win 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 and reach his first Masters quarter-final.
In what was arguably the biggest upset of the competition so far, Dusan Lajovic, overcame Austria’s Dominic Thiem in straight sets to make it to the quarter-final. Thiem, who had gone into the tournament as one of the dark horses, almost tipped to make the final, was 5-0 on head to to head over the past five matches against Lajovic but went down in straight sets, 3-6, 3-6 to crash out of the tournament.
Thiem lost his serve five times during the match, winning just 48% of his points on his first serve. Such was his trouble with his own serve that Thiem won just 26 points on it as compared to 42 for Lajovic’s serve.
Lajovic will now take on Lorenzo Sonego for a place in the semi-final with Novak Djokovic as a possible reward as the semi-final opponent. Soego ended Britain’s Cameron Norrie’s run at the Monte-Carlo Masters, beating him 6-2, 7-5 in the third round.
Things looked to be going Sonego’s way right from the very beginning, as he won the first set before getting an early break. He had a chance to serve out the match at 5-4 but Norrie broke back to level the score only to lose his service yet again. This time, his opponent served it out and made his way to the last-eight.