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By Chris Oddo | Thursday April 19, 2018

Rafael Nadal is picking up steam at the Monte-Carlo Masters. The world No.1 is looking fit and fabulous once again on the red clay, and in two matches he has answered many lingering questions about his health and ability produce the type of clay-court brilliance that is his calling card.

Thiem's Time? The Austrian Gets Past Djokovic to Set Clash with Nadal

Today Nadal mowed down rising Russian Karen Khachanov, 6-3, 6-2, to reach his 14th consecutive quarterfinal at the tournament he has owned ever since 2005. The Spaniard improves to 65-4 lifetime at Monte-Carlo and 393-35 lifetime on clay, with a victory that was never in doubt.

Nadal needed just 69 minutes to dispatch the tall, powerful Khachanov, and he won half of his return points while breaking four times on seven opportunities.

Nadal’s victory sets up a highly anticipated quarterfinal with Dominic Thiem. The pair met four times on the clay last season, with Nadal taking three of the four. In total they have met seven times, all on clay, and Nadal holds the 5-2 lifetime edge over the Austrian.

But if there is one player that can push Nadal to the limits on his favorite surface right now, it would have to be Thiem.

Thiem already owns 91 ATP wins on clay, and seven against the Top 10. He has won seven titles and reached 11 finals on the surface, but had not reached the last eight at Monte-Carlo until he slipped past Novak Djokovic in three sets earlier on Thursday.

In other action on round of 16 day at Monte-Carlo, Kei Nishikori reached his first quarterfinal in the principality as well with a three-set win over Andreas Seppi. No.4-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, No.5-seeded David Goffin and No.3-seeded Alexander Zverev also advanced.

Second-seeded Marin Cilic moved through when Milos Raonic pulled out with a knee injury. Each of the top six seeds have reached the quarterfinals, with Richard Gasquet and Nishikori rounding out the field.

Gasquet won his 500th ATP match on Thursday, becoming the first player from France to reach 500 wins in ATP Open Era history.


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