Rafael Nadal left no doubt that he would be the overwhelming favorite at next month’s French Open after crushing David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3 in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals on Saturday.
Fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco will be the last man standing in Nadal’s way to a record sixth consecutive title in the glitzy principality after he demolished top seed Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-2.
After needing just 75 minutes to dismiss Ferrer, Nadal took the time to sign a few balls and fire them into the delighted crowd as the first sunbeams pierced through on a mostly cloudy day at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Nadal lost the first game on Saturday to love and then saved a break point in the second game before racing to a 5-1 lead, with Ferrer unable to control his opponent’s devastating forehand.
Nadal even seemed to feel sorry for Ferrer, apologizing to his compatriot after clinching the sixth game with a delightful backhand lob.
Grunting in agony, Ferrer won the seventh game to love but conceded the opening set as he sent a backhand long.
The 11th seed smashed his racket on to his foot twice in frustration after he failed to capitalize on a rare moment of weakness by Nadal in the second game of the second set.
Ferrer triggered a loud roar from the capacity crowd when he broke back for 2-2, but the feat took too much out of him.
As the clock ticked on to the hour, Nadal reclaimed his advantage with a jaw-dropping forehand winner down the line. Ferrer flagged at that point, serving a couple of double faults in the seventh game to give the claycourt master a 5-2 lead.
Ferrer pulled a break back but bowed out on his own serve, netting a routine forehand on the second match point.
Djokovic was completely outplayed from the baseline in a one-sided contest.
Verdasco did not even have to try too hard, taking full advantage of Djokovic’s error-riddled game. The Spaniard broke twice in the opening set when Djokovic double faulted and netted a backhand.
The Serb looked to be back in the contest when he broke back for 2-2 in the second set but his hopes were quickly dashed.
A superb crosscourt backhand winner gave Verdasco another break and he never looked back.
■FAMILY CIRCLE CUP
AP, CHARLESTON, South Carolina
Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki retired from her semi-final against Vera Zvonareva at the Family Circle Cup on Saturday after injuring her right ankle.
The Dane was trailing 2-4 in the first set when she slid for a drop shot and her foot caught on the clay surface. She was assisted to her chair and got her ankle taped.
To cheers from the crowd, Wozniacki returned to the court at Daniel Island. But after Zvonareva held to go up 5-2, Wozniacki double-faulted at 15-15 and retired.
In yesterday’s final, Zvonareva was due to play Samantha Stosur of Australia, who defeated Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-3, 7-6 (2).
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