Nadal advances to 14th straight Monte Carlo quarters
Spaniard Rafael Nadal is set for a blockbuster quarterfinal showdown with Austrian Dominic Thiem after cruising past Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2 in 80 minutes Thursday at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters in Monaco.
Nadal, the world No. 1, has reached the quarterfinals at Monte Carlo 14 straight years. The fifth-seeded Thiem advanced after battling past 2013 and 2015 champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-3 in two hours, 28 minutes.
While Nadal handled Khachanov without much hassle, taking a 3-0 lead in the first set and 5-1 in the second, Thiem needed to come back against Djokovic after dropping the first set in the tiebreaker. Thiem won five straight games to claim the second set and the last four in the decisive third set after falling behind 3-2.
Nadal is 5-2 in his career against Thiem.
"It's the ultimate challenge for everybody, to play against him (Nadal)," said Thiem. "For sure tomorrow, I have to raise my level again. I think I'm able to do that. If you do so, I'm going to have chances tomorrow. If not, I'm out. It's pretty easy. ... Of course, I would have liked to have faced him later in the tournament. But the draw was a little bit unlucky for me, especially. Hopefully for him, as well, tomorrow."
Also on Thursday, Frenchman Richard Gasquet claimed his 500th career victory in defeating German Mischa Zverev 6-2, 7-5. Gasquet is the first Frenchman in the Open era to reach 500 wins, and he did so at the same tournament he won his first tour-level match at in 2002.
"I'm happy I did it in Monte Carlo 16 years after my first victory," said Gasquet, who is the eighth active player to reach the milestone. "There are very few players who have achieved this... I certainly am among the worst of players [to achieve it]."
Gasquet will next face third-seeded German Alexander Zverev, who battled past fellow countryman Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
No. 4 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria is also into the quarterfinals after ousting German Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Dimitrov will next face sixth-seeded Belgian David Goffin, who beat 11th-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.
Rounding out the field Friday is Japan's Kei Nishikori and Croatia's Marin Cilic. Nishikori bested Italy's Andreas Seppi 6-0, 2-6, 6-3, while Cilic advanced when 14th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic withdrew from the tournament with a knee injury.
--Field Level Media
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