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Nadal Sets Blockbuster Final With Djokovic

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal is bidding for an eighth successive Monte-Carlo title.

Seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal will face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a blockbuster final at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters after the Spaniard beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday.

If World No. 2 Nadal is to win his eighth-successive title at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where he has a 43-1 event record, he will have to stop a run of seven straight defeats to Djokovic. Since beating the Serb at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in 2010, Nadal has succumbed in seven finals, most recently at the Australian Open in January.

"My feeling is I have much less to lose than him. I have everything to win," said Nadal. "That's the most important thing. That's the only positive thing about losing seven times. The next matches, you only have to win. You go to the match knowing that the normal thing is lose but trying the best to change situation. That's what I'm going to try."

The 25-year-old Nadal is bidding to win a record 20th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy. He did hold the standalone record with 19 of the prestigious titles, until Roger Federer drew level with victory at last month’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Isner).

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Should Nadal win the title in Monte-Carlo, it would be his first tour-level trophy since triumphing at Roland Garros in June 2011. He has compiled a 21-3 match record on the season and is through to his second final.

In beating Simon for the fifth time in six meetings, Nadal saved all seven break points he faced and made the Frenchman rue his missed opportunities by breaking him once in each set to claim victory in one hour and 50 minutes.

"It is always difficult to play against Gilles," said Nadal. "He is always smart on the court and he knows how to play tennis. I'm very happy. It was a very difficult victory for me. So it's fantastic being in another final."

The 27-year-old Simon was contesting his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court semi-final after recording back-to-back Top 10 wins over No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic in the third round and No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals. He dropped to a 17-10 match record on the season.

"I felt well physically and tennis wise," said Simon. "I knew I had the weapons I needed to play a good match against him. But still it was tough to actually do it. Sad that I was not able to reach this achievement and beat him. But I was not realistic enough on certain opportunities. Against him, you can't afford that.

"It's never a good feeling when you lose, but it's encouraging because I was able to give him some trouble, and that is interesting. My regret is I didn't play well enough on the breakpoints I had."  

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