Tennis: Nadal holds off Tsonga to reach final

Clay king Rafael Nadal survived a storming comeback attempt from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Saturday before finally holding off the sixth seed to win 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) and take his accustomed place in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal, seeded third but always the man to beat on his most lethal surface, spent 96 minutes on court as Tsonga rallied from a set and 5-1 down, breaking the Spaniard twice but failing in the second-set tiebreak which decided the dramatic contest.

After sealing victory on his fifth match point, Nadal will next play the winner of the second semi-final between top seed Novak Djokovic and Italian outsider Fabio Fognini.

It will be the Spaniard's fifth consecutive final since making his comeback in February after seven months out with knee problems.

The 26-year-old Spaniard stands one win away from an historic ninth straight trophy in the principality, where his solitary loss came in 2003 as a teenager.

The win was the second narrow escape in as many days for Nadal, who had to battle back from a set down to beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in their quarter-final.

Nadal has now won 46 straight matches here, while Frenchman Tsonga has still never beaten a top 5 opponent on clay from eight attempts.