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Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray stayed on course for their semi-final showdown at Roland Garros by recording contrasting wins on Monday in the fourth round of the French Open. Nadal, aspiring to pick up a record 7th title here, looked every bit a champion as he handed out a humbling, 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 thrashing to the unlucky 13th seed Juan Monaco of Argentina. Britain no.1 Andy Murray meanwhile was made to work harder for his win, against Frenchman Richard Gasquet, battling back from a set down to win comfortably in the end, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
Juan Monaco was never really expected to challenge Rafael Nadal in today's match, but the severity of the beating that he received was testament to the Spaniard's invincibility at a venue on which he has lost just won match in 8 years. Monaco started well in the opening set, holding his first couple of service games before he lost 17 straight games to his exceptional opponent.
It is often point less to look at the stats in which a player wins only two games, however, it is noteworthy that Nadal didn't even really need to work particularly hard to break serve, completely dominating his Argentine opponent from the back of the court.
The legendary Spaniard was as always effusive in his praise for his opponent, and couldn't help but feel sorry for one of his closest friends on tour. "Very happy the way I played. I feel very, very sorry for him. I think he's playing probably the best tennis of his career, but probably not today after, especially the last set, no, when he start to miss, you know. I saw him a little bit, you know, suffering a little bit on court at the end.
"He's one of my best friends on tour. I feel very sorry for him. But same time, you know, he's playing great. He's having fantastic results. He's No. 14 or 15 in the world today."
Nadal will face his compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the next round. The no.12 seed beat Janko Tipsarevic earlier today in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Nadal had this to say about his next opponent, "He's so dangerous because he's good... His serve help. He has a very good serve. First and second serve are fantastic. Then he after this serve, he's able to play aggressive. He's able to hit the ball in the right conditions, in a good position. It's very difficult to stop him.
"So my work have to be to put him in difficult positions, try to play long, try to play a little bit to the sides, to the angles, make him play a little bit more uncomfortable. That's what I have to try, and that's what I will try."
Over on Court Philippe Chatrier, Andy Murray took on the crowd and Richard Gasquet with the fans showing a fair bit of disregard for the Briton. The opening set brought the home fans to their feet with Gasquet starting really well, running away with the first set 6-1.
With the match not going his way, Murray's suspect back also started to act up, with the crowd also doing their bit to rile the world no.4. However, Murray continued to show his battling qualities hanging in to steal the second set 6-4 by breaking Gasquet in the 10th game with the Frenchman throwing in a double fault on set point.
Gasquet's match was over by the as Murray romped through the next two sets for the loss of just three games, booking his place in the quarter-finals opposite another Spaniard in David Ferrer. The no.6 seed has looked in exceptional form over the last week and might even go into that match as a slight favourite considering his better skill on the surface.
In other late matches, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova advanced to the women's quarter-finals with an easy 6-2, 6-1 rout of American Varvara Lepchenko in exactly an hour. Kvitova smashed 18 winners and broke serve twice in each set to record a comfortable win. She will face Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova, who stunned defending champion Li Na in three lopsided sets, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Estonian powerhouse Kaia Kanepi was the last player to advance to the quarter-finals with another back-and-forth win against young Arantxa Rus, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0. Kanepi will face Maria Sharapova in the quarters.
File Photograph Copyright: Italian Open
Men's Singles - 4th Round
Rafael Nadal(ESP) def. Juan Monaco(ARG) 6-2 6-0 6-0
Andy Murray(GBR) def. Richard Gasquet(FRA) 1-6 6-4 6-1 6-2
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