March 9, 2014
Nadal and Djokovic to meet in Monte Carlo final
World number one Novak Djokovic will try to deal Rafael Nadal another blow when the world's two top players clash in Sunday's Monte Carlo Masters tennis final, where the Spaniard is chasing an eighth consecutive crown.
Nadal recorded his 41st win in a row in the season's first big claycourt event as he defeated Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3 6-4 in Saturday's semi-finals, while the Serbian battled back from a set down to beat sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Djokovic has won their last seven encounters, which were all finals in grand slam or Masters events, including at the Madrid and Rome claycourt tournaments last year.
"My feeling is I have much less to lose than him," Nadal told a news conference. "I have everything to win. That's the only positive thing about losing seven times.
"Being in the final is fantastic news... Don't forget that a few weeks ago I didn't know if I would be here playing or not," added the Spaniard, who had to pull out of last month's Sony Ericsson Masters in Miami before his semi-final because of a knee injury.
Djokovic refused to regard himself as the favourite as Nadal is unbeaten since 2005 in the principality and has reached this year's final without dropping a set.
"It's an ultimate challenge," Djokovic, who lost the 2009 final to the Spaniard, told reporters.
"I need to play well from the first to the last point. I cannot have ups and downs. I cannot afford that against Rafa. I'm aware of that. But why not believe that I can win?"
Djokovic has been overcome by emotion at times since the death of his grandfather on Thursday and the top seed had to work hard to move past Berdych after two hours 42 minutes.
He wowed the packed crowd when he hit a backhand winner to wrap up the victory and advance to his 45th ATP Tour final.