Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Nadal 'relaxed' as rivals struggle at Monte Carlo Masters

updated 2:17 PM EDT, Thu April 18, 2013
Rafael Nadal stayed on course for a record-extending ninth consecutive title at the Monte Carlo Masters after beating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the third round. Rafael Nadal stayed on course for a record-extending ninth consecutive title at the Monte Carlo Masters after beating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the third round.
HIDE CAPTION
Nadal into Monte Carlo quarterfinals
Nadal into Monte Carlo quarterfinals
Nadal into Monte Carlo quarterfinals
Nadal into Monte Carlo quarterfinals
Nadal into Monte Carlo quarterfinals
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Defending champion Rafael Nadal through to last eight of Monte Carlo Masters
  • Spaniard will next play 21-year-old Bulgarian Gregor Dimitrov
  • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic comes from behind for second match in a row
  • Andy Murray suffers shock loss that will drop Briton to third in world rankings

(CNN) -- After a difficult past year, Rafael Nadal is back where he feels most comfortable -- but his rivals are battling to find form ahead of the French Open.

While the Spaniard cruised into the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo tournament he has won for the past eight seasons, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic again had to come from behind to earn his place while Andy Murray suffered a crushing defeat that will demote him to third in the rankings.

Fourth seed Tomas Berdych and No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro also crashed out Thursday to thin out the competition for Nadal as he continues his winning return to the ATP Tour following longterm knee problems.

His 6-2 6-4 rout of German 16th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber was his 16th successive victory this year following a defeat in the final of his comeback event in Chile in February.

Read: Tennis is a 'clean sport,' says Tipsarevic

"I feel more relaxed, yes. I had some uneasy moments during the past year," Nadal said after his 44th consecutive win at the clay-court event, which set up a clash with 21-year-old Bulgarian Gregor Dimitrov.

Tipsarevic's clay court master class
Can 'Baby Federer' become a champion?
Little girl takes on tennis giants
The story behind Sharapova's success

"Now I'm back on the tour. Just being here is good news. And winning matches -- I say it every day, but winning every match is very important to me today. Every time I have the chance to go on court and play well, feel competitive, is a really good feeling."

Dimitrov is also on a roll, having followed up his opening victory over world No. 10 Janko Tipsarevic by beating Germany's Florian Mayer 6-2 6-4.

"Really looking forward to that match," said Dimitrov, who reached a career-high 31st in the rankings last month. "Even for now I'm very excited.

"I'm feeling quite good coming on court with (the top players). I feel also physically I'm ready to kind of hang with them more as the match goes on.

"I know tomorrow is another point of view, since clay court you're playing against the greatest of all time. There's that feeling and anxiety that you want to come out and do the best you can. I think most of all you have to keep a good composure."

Read: Djokovic battles in opening match

Murray is seeking to restore his composure after being beaten in less than an hour by Stanislas Wawrinka, a result that will see the Swiss 13th seed's absent compatriot Roger Federer return to No. 2 in the rankings.

"When I started making a lot of errors he was able to dictate all of the points from there," said Murray, who made 24 unforced mistakes as he missed out on a possible semifinal against Nadal.

"I've played some good tournaments here but it does take me time to feel comfortable on the surface. I need matches against top players to see what's going wrong and going right and the things I need to work on to get better.

"No-one wants to lose matches like that. Hopefully I can use it as motivation to improve because I really need to do a lot of work. I need to work really hard over the next two weeks to get ready for Madrid."

Last year the Spanish capital's experiment with blue clay proved unpopular with most players, and it was banned for this season.

Djokovic was one of the most vocal critics, but this year he is focused on his fitness problems after battling to beat Juan Monaco 4-6 6-2 6-2 on Thursday.

Read: No. 1 Djokovic to play despite injury

"It's another big test obviously, again a two-hour match," said the Serbian, who injured his ankle on Davis Cup duty earlier this month.

"Obviously I'm not physically feeling my best. Somehow feels that I always miss that half a step. But I'm trying. I'm fighting. After I lost the first set today, I tried to find that inner strength. I found it again. So that's a positive thing. Every day brings a new challenge and we'll see what happens tomorrow."

A two-time runnerup in the principality, Djokovic -- who could again meet Nadal in the final -- will next face Del Potro's conqueror Jarkko Nieminen.

The veteran Finn triumphed 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-4) against the 2009 U.S. Open champion as he was taken to a tie-break in the decider after the Argentine saved a match-point, before reaching his first Masters-level quarterfinal since 2006.

Berdych lost 6-4 6-2 to 32nd-ranked Italian Fabio Fognini, who earned his first Masters-level quarterfinal appearance -- a clash with French seventh seed Richard Gasquet.

Gasquet, a semifinalist in Miami last month, beat Croatian ninth seed Marin Cilic 7-5 6-4.

Wawrinka, meanwhile, will next face world No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3 6-0 the day after the Frenchman's 28th birthday.

"To beat Andy that easy was a big surprise, for sure," Wawrinka said. "I'm playing really good, really strong, really confident with my game. He's playing slow, he's playing from the baseline, he's not putting so much pressure. For me on clay, it's perfect."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
updated 9:14 PM EDT, Sun June 22, 2014
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
Rafael Nadal is still the "King of Clay" -- but his crown has slipped a bit, says CNN's Will Edmonds.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
updated 7:59 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
British tennis player Elena Baltacha won 11 ITF Pro Circuit titles during her 16-year playing career.
The Ukrainian-born, British tennis star loses fight against liver cancer, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling the disease.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis."
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.
updated 7:07 AM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Tennis star Venus Williams reveals how she is beating the autoimmune disease that derailed her career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Wed March 5, 2014
After two decades dedicated to the game, Amelie Mauresmo wants a second life -- one away from tennis.
Rafael Nadal of Spain wipes his face after losing his men's final match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during day 14 of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.
Almost five years to the day after reducing Roger Federer to tears at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal shed a few in his own loser's speech.
ADVERTISEMENT