Nadal, Djokovic Cruise Into Monte Carlo Quarters; Zverev, Thiem Tumble Out

Tournament favorites Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic continued their march toward a Sunday showdown in Monte Carlo.

Nadal won his 17th straight match at the event he has taken 11 times, dropping just one game after reaching 4-all in the first in a 6-4, 6-1 victory over the Bulgarian.

“I felt good. I think that the first set was a high-quality set of tennis,” said Nadal who improves to 12-1 against Dimitrov. “The second set were a little bit more mistakes and the wind was even [greater] later in the match. The wind is for both of us, and of course always have an impact. That’s what happen when you play outdoors. These things are part of the game and just try to be ready for it.”

Nadal is now 70-4 in Monte Carlo. He’s also won his last 14 matches on clay. Up next will be Guido Pella who bounced former French semifinalist Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

“I am happy the way that I am playing. The first two rounds I played more than well enough to win. I had two confident scores against two good players,” Nadal said. “First matches after an injury, that’s always a tough thing to come back. At the same time, different surface, on clay after almost a year. So that’s a good start for me on the clay court season.”

Two-time champ Djokovic was rusty in his opening round win over Philipp Kohlschreiber, but today he rolled in a 6-3, 6-0 win over Taylor Fritz. He’ll face another youngster in Daniil Medvedev who toughed out Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

“[Daniil] has improved his movement a lot, I think. Obviously his results are showing that he’s close to the Top 10,” said Djokovic. “He’s definitely in the form of his life. He’s had a good tournament so far here, winning quite comfortably in the first two matches and then now against Tsitsipas today.

“We have never faced each other on clay. We have faced each other in a close four-setter in Australia this year… I have seen him play. I have practiced with him many times. I’m looking forward to it.”

Two top seeds tumbled out as clay expert Dominic Thiem was stunned by Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-3 and Fabio Fognini foiled 2018 semifinalist Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-1.

“I’m very happy today. I didn’t expect this, especially not in two sets against a player like Dominic,” Lajovic said. “This was for sure my best match in my life, I think. I produced some great tennis from the beginning until the end of the match and I’m very happy to be in the quarter-finals in Monaco.”

Zverev, who has 3-5 in his last eight matches, fell apart after playing the Italian tough to 3-all in the first.

“I’m really happy. Happy because I was always losing with him, but it was a really tough match,” Fognini said. “He’s No. 3 in the world, even if he’s playing his best tennis. I’m really happy.”

Lajovic will meet the surprise qualifier Lorenzo Sonego for a spot in a first Masters semi for either. Sonego upended Cameron Norrie.

Fognini will face Borna Coric, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

“Coric is a really good fighter. He fights a lot. He won so many matches last year,” Fognini said. “I have to be happy for sure and enjoy my match from tonight, recover well, that’s the most important thing and try my best.”

Just 2 of the Top 8 seeds, Nadal and Djokovic, made the quarterfinals.

COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) vs [Q] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs [10] Daniil Medvedev (RUS)
Guido Pella (ARG) vs [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP)
[9] Borna Coric (CRO) vs [13] Fabio Fognini (ITA)

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