Tennis: Nadal beats Murray to reach Monte Carlo Masters final, will play Monfils or Tsonga

Rafael Nadal reacts after winning his match against Andy Murray.
Rafael Nadal reacts after winning his match against Andy Murray.PHOTO: REUTERS

MONTE CARLO (Monaco) (AFP) - Rafael Nadal returned to the final of the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time in three years, as the eight-time champion struggled to close out a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Andy Murray on Saturday.

Nadal, who lifted the title in the principality uninterruptedly from 2005 to 2012, last lost the 2013 final to Novak Djokovic.

But Spain's fifth-seeded king of clay showed hints of the form which took him to multiple seasons of total dominance on the surface, as he overcame second seed Murray in a battle lasting for more than two and a half hours.

It was not all one-way traffic for Nadal, who spent 10 minutes in the final game between his first match points and his fifth in fighting off a late Murray charge.

The 28-year-old Murray saved four Nadal match points and had two break chances of his own, before Nadal finally drilled over a winner which the Scot could not quite handle.

Nadal, 29, who has struggled for form in the last 18 months, will bid for a ninth title on Sunday against either of the Frenchmen Gael Monfils or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.