Andy Murray will face his “favourite player to watch” Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals of the French Open after the Brit handed Fernando Verdasco a straight sets defeat.
Playing for a third consecutive day after his third round against Philipp Kohlschreiber was completed over two days, Murray put in a clinical display against Verdasco to reach the last eight in Paris for a fourth time in his last five trips to the French capital.
He’s relishing taking on Frenchman Monfils – who he first played as a 10-year-old in a tournament in Rouen, France – next in what promises to be an entertaining match.
“I’m looking forward to the next match with Gael, it should be a great atmosphere,” said Murray. “I first played Gael when I was 10 and he was 11. He’s an unbelievable entertainer. He’s one of my favourite players to watch. I think in the grand slams he’s played his best tennis here by far. He loves playing in front of a big crowd. He’s a great athlete.
“Maybe the best we have had in tennis. It’s going to be an exciting match. I’m sure there will be some fun rallies. There always is when I have played against him.”
Monfils made quick work of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who dumped out world No3 Stan Wawrinka in the opening round, beating the Spaniard 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 but admits he is exhausted having come to Paris low on match practice due to injury.
“I’m tired. It’s not easy during the second week. It’s never easy. Even three sets. I think I lost a lot of energy through nerves. I will try to be better for Wednesday,” said Monfils.
Earlier on Court Philippe Chatrier, Rafa Nadal was merciless against 23-year-old Serbian Lajovic, who narrowly avoided the worst drubbing ever delivered by the Mallorcan.
Lajovic lost 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 – two games better than Juan Monaco’s defeat to Nadal here two years ago.
With music icon Prince in the stands and the abdication of King Juan Carlos on his mind, world No1 Nadal, who turns 28 on Tuesday, held to love in the opening game, although Lajovic appeared to have the right gameplan, being aggressive and coming to the net in the early points.
But Nadal was in a punishing mood, dictating with his forehand and breaking in the second game before opening up a 5-0 lead.
The Spaniard got his first set point on Lajovic’s serve with a drop shot but then sent a backhand long allowing the young Serb to finally get on the board.
It only delayed the inevitable though as Nadal served out the set and stormed to a 4-0 lead in the second.
Nadal faced three break points in the eighth game but saved all three before gaining a two-set advantage. A netted backhand smash gave the eight-time champion three break points in the third set opener and Lajovic double-faulted to hand Nadal the break.
He then breezed through the set to open up a 5-0 lead but was broken while serving for the match.
He responded immediately though, getting three match points in the following game and sealed the victory with a forehand return winner.
Nadal faces David Ferrer next in a rematch of last year’s final, after the world No5 beat big-hitting South African Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1.