Rafael Nadal glided effortlessly past the challenge of Dominic Thiem at the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday (Apr 20). The world No 1 won 6-0 6-2 in their quarter-final - he won the first nine games to threaten his first-ever ATP Tour whitewash.
He later described the win as "one of the best matches I have played on clay," and he will next face Grigor Dimitrov after the Bulgarian was too strong for David Goffin, chalking up a 6-4 7-6 win to continue his best ever showing at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Nadal needs to win the Monte Carlo Masters for an 11th time in order to fend off Roger Federer at the pinnacle of the world rankings.
His excellence on clay surfaces was demonstrated against Thiem, the seventh seed who eliminated Novak Djokovic on Thursday. Thiem was forced to wait 51 minutes in the afternoon heat before getting on the scoreboard.
The Spanish, 31, is challenging for a record 31st Masters title, 24 of which have been on clay. Winning in straight sets on Friday means Nadal has won 32 consecutive sets on clay - a run that dates back to a defeat by Thiem at the 2017 Rome Masters.
Nadal and Novak Djokovic are not the only men on the comeback trail in Monte Carlo, Japan's Kei Nishikori is also looking to put his injury problems behind him.
The former world no 4 missed the end of last season with a wrist injury and has been taking small steps so far this season, winning a tournament on the Challenger Tour but suffering to defeats to Denis Shapavalov and Juan Martin del Potro in Mexico and Miami.
However in the principality this week he has been proving his fitness and that continued with a third three set victory from his four matches so far.
He needed almost three hours to see off second seed Marin Cilic to reach a first Masters semi-final since 2016 and a first in Monte Carlo.