A new edition of the most famous French tennis tournament is about to start! Only Roger Federer...
Rafael Nadal closed in on Monte Carlo Masters history on Thursday while Roger Federer confidently buried his previous day's heart-stopping brush with humiliation to move into the quarter-finals.
But third seeded Serb Novak Djokovic, the 20-year-old Australian Open champion, served up a 6-0, 6-4 demolition of Britain's Andy Murray to hammer out a devastating indication of his claim to the trophy.
Second seed Nadal, chasing a record fourth successive Monte Carlo title, eased past Spanish compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 6-1 to record his 21st win in 22 matches in the principality.
Top seed Federer, who had been just two points away from defeat against world number 137 Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in the second round, saw off Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-4.
Nadal, who has defeated Federer in the last two finals, now takes on fellow Spaniard David Ferrer while the world number one must get past David Nalbandian of Argentina who took just an hour to see off Spanish 12th seed Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-0.
"I was patient and happy to have played so well after yesterday," admitted Federer who said he had held an immediate inquiry into his failings against Ramirez Hidalgo with interim coach Jose Higueras.
"I made a lot of errors in my first match but with Jose I was able to analyse the good and the bad and to see how I turned it around. We created a plan for today. It's been an interesting 24 hours for me."
Nadal, whose title here last year took him level with Ilie Nastase's three consecutive wins from 1971-1973, said he was happy with his trouble-free progress.
"It's never easy to play Juan Carlos on clay so to beat him 6-4, 6-1 is a very good win," said Nadal who has now racked up 95 wins in 96 matches on clay since April 2005.
"I've had a great start beating Mario (Ancic) in the first round and now Juan Carlos. The first claycourt tournament of the year is never easy especially this season because I played Davis Cup indoors in Germany last week.
"Then I had a few days at home in Mallorca before coming here to prepare for three days."
The triple French Open champion broke in the fourth game of the first set to lead 3-1 before the gritty 13th seeded Ferrero, twice a champion in 2002 and 2003, hit back in the seventh game.
But Nadal, wrapped up the opener with a vicious, deep forehand on his fourth set point.
Nadal stormed into a 5-1 second set lead which was converted into victory courtesy of a smooth forehand pass.
Federer was broken in the third game of the first set to trail world number 64 Monfils 1-2 before hitting back straightaway.
He broke again to lead 4-2, teed up a set point in the ninth game with an incisive volley before closing out the opener when Monfils hit long.
The Swiss broke to lead 2-1 in the second set before going to three match points on serve in the 10th game. Monfils saved one but went down to defeat with a weary netted return after a 71-minute tussle.
Djokovic reached his first Monte Carlo quarter-final with a stunning victory over Murray, reeling off the first seven games of the contest.
"I wanted to keep control of the match and be patient and aggressive at the same time," said Djokovic.
"It's my goal to win a major on clay and I believe I have a good enough game to do it."
The Serbian now faces Sam Querrey, who put out French seventh seed Richard Gasquet 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to become the first American to reach the last eight since Vince Spadea in 2003.
Fourth seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko beat German 16th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 and now faces compatriot Igor Andreev who needed seven match points to defeat Spain's Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 and secure his first place in the last eight.
Ferrer reached his fourth successive Monte Carlo quarter-final by brushing aside Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-0.
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