On the day that Spanish King Juan Carlos abdicated his throne,
there was no danger of his compatriot doing the same in Paris as the
eight-times champion produced a 6-1 6-2 6-1 demolition job on
Serbian Dusan Lajovic.
Next up will be a man who beat Nadal the last time they faced each
other across a net - fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.
Ferrer stalled Kevin Anderson's bid to become the first South
African man in 47 years to reach the last eight of the claycourt
major with a 6-3 6-3 6-7(5) 6-1 win.
The top half of the men's draw could have become an all-Spanish
affair if Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and elastic-limbed Gael
Monfils had not played spoilsport.
Seventh seed Murray and Fernando Verdasco walked out under sunny
skies looking like clones - both kitted out in near identical canary
yellow shirts and black shorts.
Both players turned the air blue during a heated third set but it
was Murray who buzzed around Court Suzanne Lenglen, stinging
Verdasco with vicious winners for a 6-4 7-5 7-6(3) triumph.
While the linecall dispute was over in a flash after Murray gamely
conceded the point, Verdasco blamed umpire Pascal Maria for fanning
"Pascal is very peculiar. Several times I had a bad experience with
Pascal Maria. He's not the kind of umpire I get along with. I can
tell you that," Verdasco said.
"He is an umpire that many players remember vividly and not because
of his qualities."
Frenchman Monfils kept the home fires burning with a 6-0 6-2 7-5 win
over yet another Spaniard, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
But no one feels more at home at Roland Garros than Nadal.
The top seed, who said he had to slow down his serve in his previous
match after being troubled by back pain, left Lajovic with a sore
head and aching joints as he went on a rampage to go 5-0 up in the
first set before rattling off 17 straight points at the start of the
The winners flying off Nadal's racket appeared to leave everyone in
such a trance that the umpire even fluffed his lines at one stage -
telling the players 'to replay the point' in English before
sheepishly repeating the instruction in French - drawing a rare
smile from Lajovic.
With enigmatic American pop singer Prince watching from the stands,
it did not take 83rd-ranked Lajovic too long to discover why beating
Nadal at Roland Garros is one of the hardest riddles to crack.
On the eve of his 28th birthday, a screaming forehand winner allowed
Nadal to take his formidable French Open win-loss record to 63-1 and
just three wins away from again sinking his teeth into the
The result enabled Nadal to cross a major psychological hurdle as
the last time he was going for five in a row in the French capital,
he was beaten in the fourth round by Robin Soderling.
Another encouraging sign for Nadal was that his serve had once again
picked up speed and there was no evidence of any discomfort.
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"My back can be pretty unpredictable," was all Nadal was willing to
say when he was quizzed about the subject.
While Nadal being in the final of the French Open is one of the most
predictable sights in tennis - his only blip was in 2009 - Ferrer
made it that far for the first time only 12 months ago.
The odds of him repeating that run were boosted by his defeat of
Nadal in the quarter-final of the Monte Carlo Masters weeks ago but
as Ferrer knows only too well, outclassing his celebrated rival on
the regular tour is completely different to toppling him in a
best-of-five set match on red dirt.
"Tactically, I will have to be perfect. I hope that I will instill
some doubts in Rafa's mind, but if we both play at our best level,
he will be the better player," summed up Ferrer, who has beaten
Nadal only six times in 27 meetings.
While three of the world's top five men are still alive, Romanian
Simona Halep was the only seed among the top six women to reach the
last eight with a 6-4 6-3 win over Sloane Stephens, whose exit ended
American interest in the singles.
She will next face 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Andrea Petkovic's decision to hold off trading in her tennis racket
for a career in journalism paid off as she reached a grand slam
quarter-final for the first time in three years with a 1-6 6-2 7-5
win over Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens.
Hobbled by back, ankle and knee injuries that forced her out of the
tour for several months over the past two years, the German
considered quitting tennis in 2013 to try her luck as a magazine
But having put that plan on the backburner for now, she will be
eager to pen a happier tale this week by reaching her first grand
She will next face 2012 runner-up Sara Errani, who continued the
cull of top 10 players with a 7-6(5) 6-2 win over sixth seed Jelena
"It's a big disappointment, especially when you see who is left in
the draw. With all the seeds who left the draw early, it opened
up... (but) I did not do so well," shrugged Serbian Jankovic.
(Editing by Justin Palmer/Mark Meadows)
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