Rafael Nadal 'strong' and 'motivated' after reaching Stuttgart semis

Stuttgart: Top seed Rafael Nadal and Gael Monfils both struggled on their least-favourite surface on Friday before setting up a semi-final at the first edition of the Stuttgart Open to be played on grass.

Rafael Nadal returns to Bernard Tomic in the Stuttgart Open quarter-final yesterday. Nadal won 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3. Pic/AFP
Rafael Nadal returns to Bernard Tomic in the Stuttgart Open quarter-final. Nadal won 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3. Pic/AFP 

The former July clay-court tournament is now part of the three-week run-up to Wimbledon after being approached three years ago to consider making the change of surface and date. Nadal needed almost two and a half hours to defeat fifth seed Bernard Tomic 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, beating the Australian for the third time as they played on grass for the first time.

The Spaniard has taken six sets and almost five hours on court to win two matches as he struggles to make the switch of surfaces. Nadal moved through to victory but only after saving two break points in the seventh game of the third set and coming through on his second match point a game later.

Despite his hard slog, Nadal is confident with his game ahead of Wimbledon and after a poor clay season where he was dethroned as French Open champion. "I'm feeling strong and I'm motivated, I hope to have a good second half of the season. I played well today. It was a good match for me. I had a great first set and in the second he played well. My game was at a good level."

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