Rafael Nadal stayed on course for his sixth straight Monte Carlo Masters title by thrashing Michael Berrer 6-0, 6-1 on Thursday to join two-time former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero and three other Spanish players in the quarter-finals.
The second-seeded Nadal, who beat Dutch player Thiemo de Bakker by the same score in the second round on Wednesday, extended his winning run at the tournament to 29 matches with another convincing victory.
He looked to be heading for a perfect score until Germany’s Berrer rescued a game when serving at 5-0 down in the second set, prompting huge cheers from the crowd. Nadal, who has not lost at Monte Carlo since 2003, had no trouble serving out the match.
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia also booked his place in the last eight when he comfortably beat No. 13 Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4, despite a late rally from the Swiss player when he was 4-1 down in the second set.
Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in last year’s final, next plays Argentina’s David Nalbandian.
Nadal is next up against Ferrero, the Monte Carlo champion in 2002 and 2003 — the year he won the French Open.
“I played better than yesterday,” Nadal said. “I played higher, I played close to the lines and my feeling is I had more control on the ball than yesterday.”
Ferrero, who has won two titles this year, struggled to get past No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, winning 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 on his third match-point.
Ferrero has won just two of his previous eight meetings against Nadal, although that includes the last match-up on clay, in the second round of the Rome Masters two years ago.
The four-time French Open champion Nadal also leads Ferrero 4-1 on clay.
“I would love to play [him] maybe [in the] semi-final or the final, but right now the draw is like this,” Ferrero said. “I will try to play very aggressive with my forehand to his backhand and then I will try not to make a lot of mistakes.”
Ferrero held easily to lead 6-5, forcing Tsonga to serve to stay in the match, and the Spaniard clinched victory when the Frenchman’s forehand flew into the net after a short rally.
Earlier, sixth-seeded Fernando Verdasco, No. 11 David Ferrer and Albert Montanes all won their third-round matches.
Verdasco rallied from a set down to beat Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. Ferrer beat No. 8 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-0, 7-6 (7/4), while Montanes won 6-4, 6-4 against No. 4 Marin Cilic, dominating the big-serving Croat from the baseline.
Nalbandian ended the Spanish streak of victories when he beat No. 12 Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4.
Even though he had played for nearly three hours against Mikhail Youzhny late into Wednesday evening, Nalbandian was light on his feet and showed clinical finishing, taking all three of his break-point chances against Robredo.
Verdasco converted his first match-point when the 10th-seeded Berdych ended a brief rally with a sloppy backhand into the net.
Verdasco next meets Montanes in an all-Spanish quarter-final, while Ferrer plays Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Philipp Petzschner 6-3, 6-4 in an all-German match.
■FAMILY CIRCLE CUP
AP, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark beat Patty Schnyder 6-2, 7-5 on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals of the Family Circle Cup.
Wozniacki, ranked No. 2 in the world, overcame a sluggish second set to notch her third victory in four matches against the Swiss player.