Nadal went into his last-16 meeting knowing the potential hurdle of facing Novak Djokovic had been removed after seeing the Serbian suffer defeat to Dominic Thiem in the previous encounter on Court Rainier III.
FORMER world number one Novak Djokovic showed signs of rediscovering his form with a dominant 6-0 6-1 victory over Dusan Lajovic in the opening round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.
Djokovic chose Barcelona instead of the event in Budapest.
And Thiem continued to throw in a series of poor shots, double faulting on Djokovic's first set point as the 30-year-old took the breaker 7-2.
"I think I played a great match - the best of the tournament", said Nadal.
Djokovic did save three set points in the first set, and the momentum carried over into the tiebreak. I can't let him play in comfortable positions because then it will be impossible.
"I felt like I could have done things a bit better, especially at the beginning of the second set", said Bulgarian Dimitrov, who also got the better of his Belgian opponent in last year's ATP Tour Finals title decider.More news: Vice President Mike Pence makes quick visit to Colorado Springs
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov plays a forehand return to Belgium's David Goffin during their singles tennis match at the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series tournament in Monaco on April 20, 2018.
I just work every day trying to play better today than yesterday, and try play better tomorrow than today.
Goffin, a semifinalist previous year, next plays Grigor Dimitrov after the fourth-seeded Bulgarian beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
MONTE CARLO Rafael Nadal said that he has spoken to Andy Murray about his injury woes, adding he knows how hard it is to not "see the light of how to improve". Cilic, the Australian Open runner-up when the Japanese player was still recovering from a torn tendon, saved three match points and then won the tiebreaker in style. If any player have any doubts about the injuries or treatment that I do, I am always very happy to tell them my experience.
Djokovic admitted that he is still finding his way back to full fitness, although he did say he is playing pain-free for the first time in two years. Nadal said."That's what I really hope about [Murray] because he is important, very important, for our Tour".