Eight-times champion Rafael Nadal was taken to the brink by Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov before completing a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory on Friday to reach the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals.
Nadal, who made an unusual number of errors and looked uncomfortable throughout against his 21-year-old opponent, slowly ground him down and fired an ace to clinch his 45th successive victory at the first big claycourt event of the season.
The Spaniard now has a 47-1 win-loss record at the glamorous venue and will next face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 on the picturesque Centre Court to reach the last four for the first time.
The straight-laced crowd, for once reluctant to support Nadal with Dimitrov threatening to pull off a shock win, stood up to cheer the 34th-ranked Bulgarian as he left the court after a thrilling performance.
Paes and Melzer lose in quarters
Jurgen Melzer and Leander Paes lost their men's doubles quarterfinal clash against the top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan.
The Bryan brothers won 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 in one hour and 13 minutes to proceed to the semifinals against the Canadian-Australian pair of Milos Raonic and Bernard Tomic.
Paes and Melzer had earlier defeated Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna.