Nadal to vie for 10th Monte Carlo title

(TSX / STATS) -- Defending champion Rafael Nadal will vie for his 10th Monte Carlo Masters title on Sunday when he squares off against fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Nadal, eeded fourth, advanced to the final after toppling 10th-seeded Belgian David Goffin with a decisive 6-3, 6-1 victory on Saturday in Monaco.

"It's tough to believe that I'm in a final again here. It's unbelievable news for me. It's another great event," Nadal said. "Having all these great results since the beginning of the season allows me to still have a position in the top eight (of the Emirates ATP Rankings). That's a very important thing for me."

The 15th-seeded Ramos-Vinolas had a much more difficult time of it before posting a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 triumph over 11th-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille.

"I improved my tennis a little, my backhand a little bit," said Ramos-Vinolas, when asked about the improvements in his game. "I improved my physical condition. I improved a little bit my mental condition. I also have more confidence. I think there are a lot of things that are going better. It helps me get better results than before."

Goffin, who bounced two-time former champion Novak Djokovic to advance to the semifinals, jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the first set before an apparent point was taken away after chair umpire Cedric Mourier overruled the line judge. Although video replays showed Nadal's return was long, Hawkeye technology is not used on clay and left Goffin unable to challenge the call.

The crowd jeered its displeasure, but Nadal regained his focus and won the game after Goffin's return sailed into the net.

"All of a sudden you have a mistake like the chair umpire did, it's really tough," Goffin said. "When you have a mistake like this, you have to give more energy again to come back into the game. It was maybe too much."

Nadal dominated the second set and ended the match after 90 minutes before hugging Goffin at the net. Goffin, however, declined to shake the hand of Mourier and walked past him to pick up his bags.

Nadal will look to improve to 10-1 in Monte Carlo finals and win his first title in four attempts this season on Sunday. The 30-year-old owns a 2-0 mark in his career versus Ramos-Vinolas.

Ramos-Vinolas required two hours, 16 minutes to dispatch Pouille, who was hampered by an ailing lower back and hip and required treatment during the changeover.

"At the beginning of the third set, I hurt my back a little bit. Nothing serious," Pouille said. "He was playing more intensely, and a lot better. It was more difficult for me."

The 29-year-old Ramos-Vinolas surged to a 3-0 lead in the third set, with Pouille's fourth double fault of the contest paving the way to the advantage. Ramos-Vinolas didn't have much resistance in putting Pouille away to advance to the final.

Updated April 22, 2017