Nadal powers past Thiem

Rafael Nadal crushed fifth seed Dominic Thiem 6-0, 6-2 to romp into the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals on Friday as he stepped up his bid for an 11th title in style.

A tight match had been anticipated, but Nadal produced one of the most dominant wins of his career as Thiem fell to pieces in the Monaco sunshine.

The Austrian didn't get on the scoreboard until the 10th game, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.

But it was a ruthless performance from the 16-time Grand Slam champion, who has to successfully defend the title this week to remain ahead of Roger Federer at the top of the world rankings.

"I think I played a great match, my best match of the tournament for sure and one the best I've played on clay for a while," said Nadal.

The Spaniard is now just two wins away from a record 31st Masters title, after winning 32 consecutive sets on clay.

Nadal will face Grigor Dimitrov in his 13th Monte Carlo semifinal on Saturday, but the Bulgarian will need a massive improvement from his win over David Goffin if he's to stand a chance of claiming a second career victory against the 10-time champion.

Nadal started as if he knew Thiem was a potential threat, holding to love before breaking the 24-year-old at the first time of asking.

Thiem was not serving at the same level he managed in his win over two-time champion Novak Djokovic on Thursday, and although he staved off five break points in game four, he dumped a forehand into the net to gift Nadal a 4-0 lead.

Thiem was struggling, but Nadal barely missed a shot in a near-perfect opening set that he wrapped up with another strong return.

It was the 12th time Nadal had whitewashed a set against a top-10 player, and he got the second set underway with another love hold.

Thiem was wilting in the sweltering conditions and under the pressure from the other side of the net, and then back-to-back miscued forehands saw him lose an eighth straight game.

The Austrian, a two-time French Open semifinalist, finally held his serve to trail 3-1 and deny Nadal the first 6-0, 6-0 victory of his career on the ATP Tour.

The 31-year-old brought up match point with a searing forehand winner and completed a 68-minute demolition as Thiem fired a backhand into the net.

Dimitrov benefitted from a second-set collapse by Goffin to reach the semifinals for the first time with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) victory.

The 26-year-old Bulgarian got the better of a nervy Goffin in a repeat of last year's ATP Tour Finals final.

"I felt like I could have done things a bit better, especially at the beginning of the second set," said Dimitrov.

"Hopefully in my next match, I can do better in those moments."

The pair will team up later on Friday in the doubles quarterfinals, but there was no charity on offer from Dimitrov towards his partner turned opponent.

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