Spain's Rafael Nadal advanced to the quarterfinals of the French Open with a dominating victory Monday over Argentina's Juan Monaco, ceding just a pair of games in the 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 rout.
In a match played in cold, windy conditions, Nadal trailed 1-2 early on in the first set before switching gears and completely outclassing the Argentine over the final 17 games.
The world No. 2 was a virtual wall from the baseline, committing just 13 unforced errors during the one-hour, 46-minute match. But he combined that defense and consistency with powerful shot-making on the forehand side, producing a total of 23 winners to just 13 for Monaco.
"He started the match playing aggressive, having good shots. And, in my opinion he was unlucky in the first set. That's my feeling, 6-2 was too much," Nadal said in the post-match press conference.
"And later, sure, I'm very happy the way I played. I feel very, very sorry for him," Nadal said of the "double-bagel" shellacking of one of his closest friends on the ATP Tour.
Monaco, meanwhile, said he thinks it will be "practically impossible" for any player to defeat Nadal at this year's event.
"I know him. Because of how he's been feeling on court the past few weeks and having won those last two matches against (Novak) Djokovic has made him believe even more in his tennis," Monaco said.
He was referring to Nadal's victories over the world No. 1 in the finals of two key French Open tune-up events in Monte Carlo and Rome in recent weeks. Those wins followed seven straight losses by Nadal to the Serb, including the last three Grand Slam finals.
Although Nadal won the French Open last year after Djokovic was upset by Swiss great Roger Federer in the semifinals, many observers had raised doubts about the Spaniard's mental state ahead of this year's clay-court season given all the consecutive defeats.
With Monday's win, Nadal remains on track for a record seventh French Open title and has lost just 19 games through his first four matches, the lowest amount the Spaniard has ever given up at Roland Garros prior to the quarterfinal stage.
Next up for Nadal will be fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who scored an impressive 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win Monday over Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic.
Also in the bottom half of the draw, Spain's David Ferrer, the No. 6 seed, cruised into the quarterfinals with a comfortable 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 victory over yet another Spaniard, Marcel Granollers.
The 30-year-old Ferrer will be seeking his first-ever French Open semifinal berth when he squares off Wednesday against Scottish world No. 4 Andy Murray, who disappointed the home crowd by rallying Monday to defeat France's Richard Gasquet 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
In Tuesday's first two men's quarterfinal matches, Djokovic will take on the last Frenchman in the draw, world No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Federer, the 2009 champion, will play dangerous Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.
The French Open is the second Grand Slam tournament on the tennis calendar and the only one of the four played on clay. EFE