MONTE CARLO, Principality of Monaco (AFP) – Top seed Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in dominating wins to power into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.
Djokovic extended his winning streak against US players with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Taylor Fritz.
The two-time tournament champion has now won nine in a row over Americans since losing at Wimbledon in 2016 to Sam Querrey.
Nadal repeated last year’s semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov, beating the Bulgarian for the 12th time, 6-4, 6-1.
Spain’s 17-time Grand Slam champion started his clay season this week after missing a month with another knee problem and has title-holder points to defend here plus Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros.
The king of clay is bidding for a 12th trophy in the principality. His record at the event is a staggering 70-4.
Nadal spent almost an hour in securing the first set but picked up the pace in the second as he ran out the winner.
He next faces Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Third Alexander Zverev suffered another early exit as he lost 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 to 2013 semi-finalist Fabio Fognini, while French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem was blown away by Dusan Lajovic.
The Serb reeled off five straight games to complete a 6-3, 6-3 win over Indian Wells champion Thiem, who had beaten Lajovic on six previous occasions.
World number one Djokovic will be playing his ninth quarter-final here from 13 appearances at his home event.
Djokovic turned in a steady performance while his opponent committed nearly 30 unforced errors in 68 minutes.
Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 as Daniil Medvedev continued his run of form.