Nadal beats Tsonga to reach Monte Carlo final

By JEROME PUGMIRE | April 20, 2013 | 10:30 AM EDT

Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a return to France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during their semifinal match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament in Monaco, Saturday, April 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

MONACO (AP) — Eight-time defending champion Rafael Nadal recorded his 46th consecutive win at the Monte Carlo Masters by beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (3) Saturday to reach the final.

The Spaniard has reached five straight finals since returning from a seven-month layoff following a left knee injury. He will face the winner of Saturday's later semifinal between top-ranked Novak Djokovic and unseeded Fabio Fognini of Italy.

The sixth-seeded Tsonga saved four match points as he rallied back from 5-1 down to force a second-set tiebreaker, which was tied at 3-3 before Tsonga started making unforced errors.

Nadal clinched the victory with a forehand winner and took a step closer to a ninth straight Monte Carlo title and 23rd Masters title overall.