World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will look to capture his 11th Monte Carlo Masters title on Sunday when he faces Kei Nishikori in the final. Betting site Betfair Exchange lists Nadal as a 1/14 favorite, while Nishikori is a 59/5 longshot.
Nadal, who owns just a 100-point lead on No. 2 Roger Federer, defeated No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-1 on Saturday, after No. 36 Nishikori held off No. 4 Alexander Zverev, 3-6 6-3 6-4.
The Spaniard needs a victory Sunday to remain No. 1. Federer has been inactive since an upset loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open on March 24.
Prior to the start of the Monte Carlo Masters, Nadal was the overwhelming favorite with 8/11 odds and has done little to shed doubt of his frontrunner status. In four matches, the 31-year-old has not surrendered a set in the tournament and has won 34 straight sets on clay.
Nishikori, who is still getting over a right wrist injury, has just two wins over Nadal in 11 meetings. He said his wrist remains a “little bit sore.”
The 28-year-old’s victory over Zverev, arguably the best young player on the ATP tour, is encouraging, but the Japanese star may be suffering some fatigue after also needing three sets to defeat Andreas Seppi and No. 3 Marin Cilic.
Nadal doesn’t appear to think a win Sunday is a given. After defeating Dimitrov, he texted coach Carlos Moya to get in some extra practice time to fine tune his groundstrokes.
“I was texting Carlos to tell him that we need to book a court quick,” Nadal said. “I wanted to hit some forehands winners that I think I need for tomorrow.”
The Monte Carlo Masters is considered an important tune-up for the French Open. Nadal, who has won the Grand Slam 10 times, has 11/17 odds of winning an 11th title, according to betting site OddsChecker.com.
The French Open begins on May 27.
Nadal has dominated in Monte Carlo. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
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