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Nadal brushes aside Dimitrov to reach 12th Monte Carlo final

© AFP | Rafael Nadal easily saw off the challenge of Grigor Dimitrov to reach his 12th Monte Carlo Masters final

MONTE CARLO (PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO) (AFP) - 

World number one Rafael Nadal swept aside Grigor Dimitrov to ease into his 12th Monte Carlo Masters final with a 6-4, 6-1 victory on Saturday.

The 31-year-old, who needs to win an 11th Monaco title to retain the number one ranking ahead of Roger Federer, will face either Kei Nishikori or Alexander Zverev in Sunday's final.

Nadal came through a tight first set but always looked too strong for Dimitrov and raced through the second in less than half an hour.

The top seed is bidding for a record-extending 31st Masters title this week, and this win saw him extend his run of consecutive sets won on clay to 34.

Nadal is playing in his first ATP tournament since pulling out of his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January with a hip injury, but has shown no signs of rust in the principality.

Following a 6-0, 6-2 last-eight thrashing of Dominic Thiem, Nadal has now lost only 16 games in four matches this week.

He saw a 3-0 first-set lead slip away as Dimitrov laid down the first real challenge to the Spaniard this week, only for a sloppy service game from the Bulgarian to gift the 10-time champion the opening set.

That effectively ended Dimitrov's chances, and Nadal broke to love in the second game of the second set.

Eight straight points on his opponent's serve saw Nadal storm towards the finishing line, and a wide Dimitrov backhand wrapped up yet another comfortable victory.

© 2018 AFP