Rafael Nadal’s bid for a 12th Monte Carlo Masters title was shattered by Russia’s Andrey Rublev, who swept to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 quarter-final win on Friday.
Rublev became only the fifth player to defeat Nadal in Monte Carlo which has long been a stronghold for the Spaniard.
Nadal, bidding to reach the semi-finals of a Masters event for the 75th time, followed world No 1 Novak Djokovic, who was beaten in the third round, out of the tournament.
World No 8 Rublev will face unseeded Casper Ruud, who put out defending champion Fabio Fognini, for a place in the final.
“For Rafa, it must be incredibly difficult to play with this pressure of always having to win,” said Rublev who also made the Miami Masters semi-finals at the start of April.
“I’m shocked to see the level which he can reach despite this pressure. It’s much easier to play when you have nothing to lose.”
It was only the second time in 16 appearances in Monte Carlo that Nadal had failed to make the semi-finals.
The other semi-final will feature Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas against Britain’s Dan Evans, the man who shocked Djokovic in the third round.
Tsitsipas is the highest seed left after world No 2 Daniil Medvedev was forced to withdraw due to a positive Covid-19 test.
Rublev is no stranger to taking out the big names – back in 2019, he stunned Roger Federer at Cincinnati in just 62 minutes.
On Friday, the 23-year-old won the first set in 38 minutes but Nadal then pocketed the last four games of the 73-minute second set to level the contest.
In the decider, Rublev held his nerve, breaking the Spaniard three times on his way to a famous win.
This was Rublev’s first career win over Nadal.
Results in the ATP Monte Carlo Masters on Friday (x denotes seeding):
Dan Evans (GBR) bt David Goffin (BEL x11) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x4) bt Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 7-5 – retired
Andrey Rublev (RUS x6) bt Rafael Nadal (ESP x3) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Casper Ruud (NOR) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x15) 6-4, 6-3
(WITH AFP INPUTS)