Defending champion Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic eased into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday, remaining on course to meet in the final of the clay-court tournament.
After Djokovic beat unseeded American Taylor Fritz 6-3, 6-0, the 11-time champion Nadal handed Grigor Dimitrov yet another defeat, beating him 6-4, 6-1 in a repeat score of last year’s semifinal between the two.
Nadal improved to 12-1 overall against the unseeded Bulgarian, who made two big unforced errors on his forehand at 30-30 in the 10th game of the first set.
Serving for a place in the last eight, Nadal clinched victory on his second match point when Dimitrov patted a forehand into the net.
The second-ranked Spaniard will next play Guido Pella, having won both previous matches against the unseeded Argentine.
Djokovic, a two-time champion at Monte Carlo, won on his first match point against the 21-year-old Fritz.
“Taylor plays really quick and has a big serve and just flattens the ball,” Djokovic said. “(He) doesn’t really have a clay court game, but he has done well this tournament. I just managed to break his resistance.”
Djokovic will next play 10th-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
Medvedev defeated sixth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, beating him for the fourth time in four matches.
Djokovic won the three previous matches against Medvedev, but Friday’s match will be their first meeting on clay.
Pella beat No. 11 Marco Cecchinato of Italy 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Qualifier Lorenzo Sonego won 6-2, 7-5 against British player Cameron Norrie and the unseeded Italian will next face Dusan Lajovic.
The unseeded Serb upset No. 4 Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-3, 6-3.
“It’s the best match of my life,” said the 48th-ranked Lajovic, who has never won a career title.