Nadal eases into semi-finals
Rafael Nadal's incredible reign on the clay of Monte Carlo continued on Friday as he extended his winning run to 40 matches.
The Spaniard, playing this week despite concerns over his long-running knee problem, is chasing an eighth straight title and moved a step closer to it with a quarter-final win over Stanislas Wawrinka.
Improving his record against the Swiss to 8-0, Nadal was rarely troubled as he secured a 7-5 6-4 win to lay on a semi-final meeting with the in-form Gilles Simon.
He took an hour and 47 minutes to secure the success, shaking off a surrender of serve in the first set in the process.
"Yesterday and today I improved a level," Nadal told www.atpworldtour.com.
"Today was a difficult match. I had respect for the opponent before the match.
"He arrived playing great having had a fantastic victory yesterday.
"I am happy about the way I played and that I'm in the semi-finals. That's fantastic news for me. I'm just looking forward to playing a good match tomorrow."
That match will be against home favourite Simon, who emerged victorious from an all-French battle with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Like Nadal, he won 7-5 6-4.
In the other half of the draw, Novak Djokovic secured his place in the semi-finals with a win over Robin Haase in a topsy-turvy match.
The world number one exchanged several breaks of serve with Haase, but his experience came through as he won 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 17 minutes.
Djokovic had battled past Alexander Dolgopolov yesterday in an emotional match played shortly after learning of his grandfather's death.
The Serbian looked more like his usual self in the early stages against Haase, with two breaks of serve giving him a 4-1 lead in the opening set.
His Dutch opponent responded with two breaks of his own to pull the scores level, but another break in game 10 handed Djokovic the advantage.
The second set followed a similar pattern as Djokovic raced into a 4-0 lead, only for Haase to pull a break back in game five when the top seed put a forehand wide.
The pair traded further breaks in games six and seven, but Djokovic wrapped up the set in the eighth when Haase fired into the net.
The top seed will now face Tomas Berdych in the last four after the Czech ended Andy Murray's challenge following a lengthy tussle.
The third-seeded Scot took the first set on a tie-break but was unable to build on his lead as his Czech opponent hit back for a 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 6-3 victory after nearly three hours.
Berdych wasted seven break points in the opening set and was punished in the tie-break when Murray opened up a 6-2 lead before taking the set on his third set point.
The sixth seed finally broke for the first time in the third game of the second set, before adding a further break in the seventh following a poor shot from Murray.
The pair exchanged breaks at the start of the deciding set but Murray's confidence had taken a knock and Berdych secured two more breaks before sealing the match with a winning forehand down the line.
Berdych told Sky Sports 1 afterwards: "It was another tough but really good match.
"It's tough to say what was key. I'm trying to play my game, trying to play aggressive. That's key for my game and if it's working I have the game to beat anybody, even Andy.
"The win over Andy gives me a lot of confidence for the next match."