With the top-bracket in the men’s singles draw in Monte Carlo left wide open with the back-to-back upsets of Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka on Thursday, Rafael Nadal lent some stability with his bracing win in the second-half of the draw.
Rafael Nadal ends birthday boy Alexander Zverev’s run
The fourth seeded Spaniard powered through in his third round match against 14th seed Alexander Zverev, who was celebrating his 20th birthday, winning the match 6-1, 6-1 in 68 minutes.
Nadal’s performance was a complete turnaround from his three-set tussle against Briton Kyle Edmund in his opener, on Wednesday. The nine-time champion, who is bidding to win an unparalleled 10th title in the Monte Carlo Masters, wrapped up the match with 12 winners and 14 unforced errors. While there wasn’t much separating the two opponents in terms of winners, with Zverev hitting 11, the German’s 34 unforced errors widened the distance between him and Nadal.
The Mallorcan will face Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-final. Schwartzman defeated German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0 earlier on the same day.
Novak Djokovic: The marathon man
Two-time former champion Novak Djokovic faced a stern test in his pre-quarter-final against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, but went on to win 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in two-and-a-half hours. The Serbian opened the match dominantly, but lost his way in the second set. He took the lead in the deciding set with a break on Carreno Busta’s serve to go up 4-2 in the set, but the Spaniard levelled the set at 4-all.
Carreno Busta had two break point chances to lead 5-4 in the set, but Djokovic saved both before putting himself 5-4 ahead in the set. A game later, Djokovic secured the win on his first match point, on his opponent’s serve. Djokovic will take on David Goffin in the quarter-finals on Friday.
The 10th seeded Goffin upset Dominic Thiem 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3, who was seeded sixth in the draw. The Austrian looked to be in control of the match as he built a 5-2 lead in the first set, but Goffin bounced back in the set to eventually win it in the tie-break. While Thiem equalled the match by taking the second set in the 10th game, it was the Belgian who prevailed in the end to book his place in the quarter-finals.