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King Carlos might be ready to give up his throne but Spain’s “King of Clay” shows no signs of abdicating any time soon.
Rafael Nadal, an eight-time winner at Roland Garros, booked his place in the quarterfinals following a straight sets win over Dusan Lajovic.
On the day that King Carlos of Spain renounced the throne following his 40-year reign, Nadal proved his powers to rule on clay were as impressive as ever.
Nadal, who will face compatriot and world No.5 David Ferrer for a place in the last four, prevailed 6-1 6-2 6-1 after outclassing his Serbian opponent.
The World No.1 is hoping to secure a fifth straight title on the clay in the French capital and remains favorite to do so.
But Ferrer defeated Nadal for the first time on clay in 10 years in April — one of three defeats the reigning champion suffered in the lead-up to the French Open.
“I think that I am playing a little bit better than when I was playing against him in Monte-Carlo, but I think he’s playing great, too,” Nadal told the ATP website.
“He played three weeks in a row at a very high level. In Madrid he played great, in Rome he played great, and he’s playing great here.
“He’s coming to the match with confidence and with confidence that he beat me the last time. It will be a tough one. I know how to play against him and to have chances to win I need to play very well. That’s what I’m going to try. If not, it will be impossible.”
Ferrer, who was beaten by Nadal in last year’s final, overcame South Africa’s Kevin Anderson to reach the last eight.
Ferrer took the first two sets 6-3 6-3 before Anderson fought back to take the third on a tie-break.
But the 32-year-old powered home, taking the fourth 6-1 to reach his 10th successive Grand Slam quarter-final.
“I will try to do my best,” Ferrer told the ATP website.
“I will try to play aggressively with my forehand and try to finish the points at the net. But of course it’s going to be difficult with Rafael on a clay court.
“Tactically, I will have to be perfect. I hope that I will instill some doubts in Rafa’s mind, but if we play at our best level, both of us, he will be the better player.
“So I will pull out all the stops to play well without making errors, and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
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Last year, Ferrer was soundly beaten in his first grand slam final by Nadal, 6-3 6-2 6-3.
But he is adamant that he is better equipped to deal with the pressure which comes with taking on the very best.
He added: “I was very nervous (last year in the final). I was jittery. It was a little bit too much for me. But now I’m calmer, I’ve had time to adapt.
“I think that I will be calmer, more serene, but I don’t know exactly what will be my state of mind when I play against Rafa. I won’t think about the final that took place last year.”
Elsewhere, Andy Murray set up a tantalizing tie against home favorite Gael Monfils.
Murray, who has now reached 13 successive grand slam quarterfinals, defeated Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-4 7-5 7-6.
The World No.6, who survived a five-set epic in the previous round against Philipp Kohlschreiber Sunday, showed little sign of fatigue with an impressive showing.
He will now face Frenchman Monfils, who overcame the challenge of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straight sets 6-0 6-2 7-5.
“I have known Gael since I was 10 and he was 11,” Murray said in his post-match interview.
“He is an unbelievable entertainer, a great athlete, a very nice guy and it should be a very tough match, but there should be some fun points because of the way we both play.”
In the women’s draw, Romania’s Simona Halep booked her place in the last eight with a 6-4 6-3 win over U.S. star Sloane Stephens.
Halep will now take on 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated Lucie Safarova 6-3 6-4.
Germany’s Andrea Petkovic reached her first grand slam quarterfinal for the first time in three years with a 1-6 6-2 7-5 win over Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens.
She will now face Sara Errani, who defeated sixth seed Jelena Jankovic, 7-5, 6-2.
“It was super tough, because I didn’t know her at all,” Petkovic told reporters of her opponent, Bertens.
“I just stalked her on YouTube yesterday the whole day, and I was already impressed yesterday.
“I think she’s going to be a force on the WTA when she gets fitter and recovers from her injuries that she’s had.”
Source : CNN