Monte Carlo Masters 2021: Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov, Preview, Head-to-Head and Prediction

Published 04/14/2021, 10:44 PM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his second round match against Argentina’s Federico Delbonis REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


With the highly-anticipated Monte-Carlo clash between World No.1 Novak Djokovic and the hugely promising Jannik Sinner seeing a lopsided finish in favor of the former on Wednesday, the focus has now shifted to the next marquee battle.

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It pits current World No.17 Grigor Dimitrov against 11-time champion Rafael Nadal, and the fans would hope that this contest does justice to all the buzz and build-up around it.

The undisputed ‘King of Clay’ opened his clay court season with an emphatic win over Argentine Federico Delbonis on Wednesday.

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Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov in top form

Though not a mean clay-courter himself, with two of his career Tour titles coming on dirt, Delbonis simply couldn’t stand up to the Nadal challenge on the day as he was blown away 1-6, 2-6.

If the Spaniard was trying to send out a message through the sheer heft and authority that he brought to bear on the Argentine, it would have hit home for sure.

As for the message itself, it’s clear and precise – Nadal has hit ominous form early into the claycourt season, and his rivals had better watch out.

The Bulgarian reached the last-16 on the back of clinical wins over German Jan-Lennard Struff and Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, and will believe that he can finally rid himself of the Nadal stranglehold over 13 matches.

Rafael Nadal holds a commanding 13-1 head-to-head over Grigor Dimitrov

For many, the 13-1 lead that the Nadal has in 14 head-to-head clashes with the Bulgarian would make this a no-contest.

Tellingly, their head-to-head numbers on clay reads 5-0 in the Spaniard’s favor.

With a win record of 93% that Nadal has over Dimitrov, one can’t be faulted for fearing the worst for the Bulgarian again.

But as has often been said, previous history has little or no bearing on how two players are going to go against each other on a given day.

If anything, the unflattering track record should fill Dimitrov with the motivation to go for the jugular this time.

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But then beating Nadal on clay is like taking down a king in his kingdom.

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However, even the mightiest does take a fall once in a while, and the Bulgarian would hope it happens on Thursday.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

835 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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