PARIS: Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal stormed into a French Open quarter-final showdown against compatriot David Ferrer yesterday while Andy Murray set-up a clash with childhood friend Gael Monfils, France’s last man standing.
With rock star Prince in the stands and the abdication of King Juan Carlos on his mind, world number one Nadal, who turns 28 today, brushed aside outclassed Dusan Lajovic, the world 83 from Serbia, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
He was at his ruthless, efficient best against Lajovic who claimed a paltry 15 points off the champion’s serve.
Watched by US rocker Prince, who played a concert in the French capital on Sunday night, Nadal, seeking to become the first man to win five French Opens in a row, needed just 93 minutes to go through to a last-eight showdown with Ferrer.
The two men met in last year’s final where Nadal allowed his 32-year-old Davis Cup teammate just eight games. Despite his Philippe Chatrier court mauling, Lajovic at least had the consolation of avoiding the worst Roland Garros rout handed out by Nadal. That unwanted record belongs to Juan Monaco who won just two games in a fourth round drubbing in 2012.
“Dusan had a great tournament, he had three good wins,” said Nadal, whose record in Paris now stands at 63 wins against just one defeat.
“It’s never easy playing on this Philippe Chatrier court for the first time. I controlled the points from the baseline and I am happy to be into another quarter-final.”
Such was the ease of Nadal’s latest Paris win that he spent most of his time at his post-match news conference discussing the abdication of King Juan Carlos of Spain.
“He is a wonderful person who was a great representative of our country and Spain should thank him,” said Nadal.
“I had the opportunity to meet him on quite a few occasions. He was always very nice and warm towards me. He made me feel very comfortable every time we met.”
Nadal holds a 21-6 advantage over Ferrer in their career meetings but it was his compatriot who won their most recent clash in the Monte Carlo quarter-finals in April. Ferrer reached his 10th successive Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1 win over South Africa’s Kevin Anderson.
Ferrer had beaten Anderson, who was hoping to be the first South African man in the last eight since Cliff Drysdale in 1967, at the same stage of the tournament last year.
“Tactically, I will have to be perfect against Rafa,” said Ferrer. “I hope that I will instill some doubts in Rafa’s mind. I will pull out all of the stops to play well without making errors, and we’ll see what’s gonna happen.”
British seventh seed Murray defeated Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) to reach the quarter-finals for the fourth time.
Wimbledon champion Murray, whose best run in Paris was a semi-final spot in 2011, will face French 23rd seed Monfils after extending his record over Verdasco to 10-1.
“I’m looking forward to the next match with Gael, it should be a great atmosphere,” said Murray of a rivalry which began when the two were children playing in Les Petits As tournament in the French town of Tarbres.
“I first played Gael when I was 10 and he was 11. He’s an unbelievable entertainer and fun to watch,” said Murray. AFP