It requires something special to steal the limelight from Rafael Nadal on a clay court, but Grigor Dimitrov managed to do that in the Rolex Masters despite losing a brilliant quarterfinal encounter, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
In the end, the Bulgarian's chances of victory were ruined, not through a lack of skill but as a result of cramps in his thigh which struck at 4-4 in the third. Dimitrov turns 22 next month and that, in today's incredibly physical game, is young. Being strong enough is all part of being able to compete at this elevated level and Dimitrov fell short in that regard.
Even if he had been able to continue to move with the fluency that had enabled him to contest numerous rallies of taxing length with his indefatigable opponent, there was no guarantee that he would have been able to dethrone the man who has not been beaten at the Monte Carlo Country Club since 2003.
Nadal does not buckle when the going gets tough and prides himself on that fact.
"I was playing against a very ...