20 Apr 2018

Nadal advances in Monte Carlo, won't meet Djokovic

5:45 am on 20 April 2018

Rafael Nadal advanced to quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters, but there will be no showdown against old rival Novak Djokovic after the former world No.1 crashed out of the tournament.

Rafael Nadal.

Rafael Nadal. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Top seed Nadal beat big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3 6-2 to reach the last eight, clinching victory with a clinical smash at the net.

The 10-time champion next faces fifth-seed Dominic Thiem, who earlier won 6-7 (7-2) 6-2 6-3 against Djokovic.

Djokovic was once Nadal's nemesis, even on clay. He ended the Spanish player's 46-match winning run by beating him in the 2013 final, and then won the tournament in 2015.

But the former top-ranked Serb, who has won 12 majors, is currently searching for form and confidence.

Nadal, who fired 25 winners against Khachanov, looked in ominous form as he progressed to the quarters for a 14th successive year.

Djokovic, in contrast, crashed out in a gruelling three-set match to fifth seed Thiem, losing 7-6 (7-2), 2-6, 3-6 to the Austrian, in a clash that lasted two hours 29 minutes.

Thiem, though believes his opponent will be back competing for big titles before too long.

"I think he's on the rise again, for sure," Thiem said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to see him at the very top of the game pretty soon."

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Third seed Alexander Zverev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 4-6 6-4 but missed out on facing his older brother Mischa Zverev in the last eight, who lost 6-2 7-5 to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Second seed Marin Cilic advanced without hitting a ball after Milos Raonic pulled out through injury. The Australian Open runner-up next plays Kei Nishikori or Andreas Seppi.

Raonic said he hurt his right knee during his second-round win on Wednesday.

"It was difficult yesterday early in the match, I rotated on my knee. I thought through treatment and so-forth it would be better," Raonic said.

"I was predisposed to some risk and I was unable to play with that amount of pain. I'll know more in the (coming) days."

Sixth seed David Goffin defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 7-5 in a match that included a bizarre incident involving a ball boy.

After losing his serve to trail 4-1, Bautista Agut cleared a ball from the back of the court as a ball boy was sprinting across. The ball, which was travelling slowly, bounced and clipped the ball boy on the head.

The Spanish player raised a hand in apology but received a warning from the umpire and fined for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Goffin, semifinalist last year, next plays Grigor Dimitrov after the fourth- seeded Bulgarian beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6 6-3 6-4.