Nadal battles past Pella into 14th Monte Carlo semi-final

Rafael Nadal in action. More

Rafael Nadal in action. More

Medvedev welcomed his defeat of Djokovic after losing in each of his three previous encounters with the Serb. I lost to him more than I won but I think I have the game to hurt him and I know he knows that I can make him struggle. It's kind of tough to find the rhythm, and he doesn't give you much.

Pella reached 30-30 but Nadal broke back and forced a tiebreaker - his first here since a third-round win against John Isner in 2015.

Across the last 12 months on clay, Nadal has broken opponents nearly 50% of the time, and against a rather return-orientated opponent and in slow conditions, Fognini's projected hold percentage is sub 50%, according to my model.

He saved one match point at 15-40 down but then double-faulted.

The last time Nadal failed to reach the last four here was in 2014, when he lost to countryman David Ferrer in the last eight.

The second semi-final sees Fabio Fognini have the unenviable task of facing Rafa Nadal, and Nadal is a very strong [1.11] favourite to progress to tomorrow's final.

"He's got a very solid backhand".

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He served for the match leading 5-2 in the second only to drop serve again, but recovered to take the win as Pella double-faulted. In an interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marco Cecchinato commented on the clay season that he just started this week.

Medvedev faces another Serb in the last four, world number 48 Dusan Lajovic.

Pella also served for the set at 6-5 but Nadal converted his third break point opportunity to force a tie-break, which he completely dominated, taking the first six points.

"He played worse than before and I am gaining more experience", said the 14th-ranked Medvedev, who is chasing a fifth career title. It was more humid and colder" On the next match against Rafael Nadal, Fognini added: "It's pretty late, I will try to recover and do my best.

The 31-year-old has struggled for rhythm in his first claycourt event of the season and will need step up his game to have a chance of winning his fourth straight Grand Slam title at next month's French Open.

There had been few expectations after falling ill prior to the tournament start.

"I am lacking that determination to go for shots on some points", he said.

Nadal toiled away for two hours, 20 minutes to win for the 71st time in 75 matches at the tournament. But his shot-making was below its usual high standards and his drop shot rarely worked.

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