|Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after defeating Andy Murray of Britain during their semi-final of the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament in Monaco, April 16, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Clay-court king Rafael Nadal captured his 36th straight win in Monte Carlo against Andy Murray on Saturday, and will meet David Ferrer in the championship match.
Nadal needed almost three hours to record the 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 victory. The grueling match featured 31 combined break points -- Nadal converted 7-of-19, compared to 6-of-12 for Murray.
The Spanish world No. 1 outlasted Murray in the third set, when the Brit won just 6-of-20 service points.
In the first semifinal at the Monte Carlo Country Club, the fourth-seeded Ferrer made quick work of Austrian Jurgen Melzer in a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Melzer had knocked off Swiss superstar Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, but fell in just 78 minutes, despite having nine break points. He converted only one, while the Spanish Ferrer converted 4-of-4 break chances.
He advances to face Nadal, who has won a record six straight Monte Carlo titles and record 18 Masters titles, but hasn't titled yet this year. Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in the finals of this year's first two Masters events -- at Indian Wells and Miami.
Nadal has won 11 of the 15 meetings with Ferrer, including eight of nine on clay. He beat Ferrer in straight sets in a semifinal matchup at Monte Carlo last year.
This year's Monte Carlo champ will collect $625,000.