MONACO — Andrey Rublev produced an audacious display of attacking tennis to hand record 11-time champion Rafael Nadal a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 defeat in the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Friday.
The sixth-seeded Russian might have won even more convincingly, with Nadal saving break points at 3-1 down in the second set.
Nadal clawed his way back to win that set and seemed to have settled down, but Rublev broke him immediately at the start of the decider in which the 34-year-old Nadal looked very tired.
Rublev clinched his first win against third-seeded Nadal on his first match point with a typically powerful winner on forehand — a weapon Nadal struggled to contain all match.
Having beaten the 20-time Grand Slam champion on one of his clay strongholds, Rublev’s next opponent is unseeded Norwegian Casper Ruud.
Ruud, who has just one career title compared to 86 for Nadal, also beat a former champion by knocking out 2019 winner Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-4, 6-3.
There are no former champions left, with Nadal and 15th-seeded Fognini joining two-time winner Novak Djokovic at the exit before the last four.
A day after upsetting the top-ranked Djokovic, unseeded Daniel Evans beat 11th-seeded David Goffin 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the first Masters semifinal of his career.
It will be against fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, a French Open semifinalist last year. The big-serving Greek led 7-5 against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina when the unseeded Spaniard abandoned with a thigh injury.
Evans led 5-3 but Goffin won the next four games to take the first set. However, the Belgian could not get a grip on a contest where he converted just two of his 17 break points, and his double-fault gave Evans the second set.
Goffin shouted at himself after wasting three break points in the opening game of the decider, but then did even worse when he blew four break points at 4-4.
Having been let off the hook once more, Evans sensed victory and took it on his first match point when Goffin’s forehand went wide.
“It wasn’t easy after the match yesterday, I felt really tired afterwards. To get back and focus, it was difficult,” said Evans, who has only one career title. “I am proud of how I came back today, especially with what happened in the first set. I felt (my) concentration wasn’t great and I am really happy coming through.”
The tournament was canceled last year because of the coronavirus.