Monte Carlo Masters: Rafa Nadal battles past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach final
Last Updated: 20/04/13 8:30pm
Rafa Nadal is on the verge of a ninth Monte Carlo Masters title after battling past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 7-6 (7/3) to reach Sunday's final.
Tsonga was made to pay for coughing up 39 unforced errors on a blustery day in the Principality compared to Nadal's 12 after one hour and 36 minutes of action.
Nadal, 25, won the contest on his fifth match point following a second set scare and will now meet world number one Novak Djokovic in the final.
In the third game of the opening set Tsonga looked on course to make an early breakthrough by earning three-break points, but Nadal saved all of them with some superb defensive tennis before eventually holding.
The Spaniard wasn't looking his usual upbeat self and laboured to the net on a couple of occasions after being pushed all the way in his quarter-final clash by Grigor Dimitrov the previous day.
However, the 'King of Clay' still managed to break his opponent in the very next game as he forced Tsonga, who edged Stanislas Wawrinka in three sets to reach the semis, into a forehand error.
Left-hander Nadal then made the number six seed pay at 5-3 on his second set-point as Tsonga's wayward forehand landed in the tramlines.
Tsonga, who turned 28 on Wednesday, was struggling in his first claycourt Masters semi-final and Nadal broke him to love on his opening service game of the second set to take charge.
At 4-1 the seven-time French Open champion showed his prowess at the baseline by crashing another whipped forehand pass beyond a disbelieving Tsonga for a double break of serve.
And just as it seemed a formality that Nadal would wrap up the match, Tsonga relaxed and salvaged a break of serve himself to the delight of the home crowd.
The big-serving Tsonga managed to save three match points in the longest game of the match at 5-2 and then found some consistency and momentum in his all-court game to rattle the claycourt master to break him for the second time and bring the set on serve.
He then powered his way to levelling the set and hand himself a second lifeline before Nadal answered the challenge on his next service game by holding to love.
And after a tight backhand return by Nadal on his fourth match point, Tsonga sent the match into a second set tiebreak.
However, the former world No 1 extended his run in the tournament to 46 successive victories by comfortably winning it 7-3.