Nadal grinds past Murray into final
Rafael Nadal held off a spirited comeback from Andy Murray to book his place in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters for a seventh consecutive year after a gruelling three-set battle.
The world No. 1 extended his unbeaten run at the Monte Carlo Country Club to 36 matches spanning back to 2004, but he was made to work hard for his 6-4 2-6 6-1 victory by the British No. 1.
Murray has never reached an ATP Tour final on clay, and it initially seemed that he would not have a chance after suffering an arm injury on Saturday morning. The start of the semi-final was delayed but after injections into the troublesome right arm the Scot opted to play.
Dubbed the 'King of Clay', Nadal has not lost a match on the red dirt since the 2009 French Open, and even at 100 per cent Murray would need a little luck on his side to overcome the Spaniard, particularly when Nadal threatened to storm to victory with an early 4-1 lead.
However, when a lapse in concentration from Nadal gave Murray a way back into the match, the Scot snatched it with both hands to break back before digging deep to hold his service game to level, but Nadal broke Murray's serve in the final game to snatch the opening set.
Not to be deterred, Murray carved out an early break in the second, and had to withstand an onslaught from the world No. 1 to hold his serve in a game lasting nearly 20 minutes.
Buoyed by the success, Murray went on to clinch another break of serve, sealed with a perfectly-executed drop shot, and although Nadal managed to get himself back in the set with another break Murray refused to bend under the relentless pressure and a third break gave him the chance to serve out the set and take the match to a decider.
Murray began holding his elbow at the start of the final set, and appeared to be in some discomfort as Nadal stormed to a 4-0 lead, and although Murray showed a hint of a revival with a break, Nadal dropped just ten points as he stormed through the decider.
Awaiting Nadal is fourth seed David Ferrer, who booked his place in the final with a 6-3 6-2 win over Roger Federer's conqueror Jurgen Melzer.
Ferrer, who has never won a Masters title, has been in imperious form in Monaco and is yet to drop a set this week, but will have to step up his level against the player who ousted him in the semi-finals last year.