Monte Carlo: Rafael Nadal calmly continued his bid for a ninth consecutive crown at the Monte Carlo Masters with a 6-2 6-4 third-round victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany on Thursday The Spanish world number five recorded his 44th win in a row in the first big claycourt event of the season to set up a quarter-final encounter with 34th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
The 21st-ranked Kolschreiber did not pose a big threat to Nadal, who had taken a month-long break to rest his knee after making an impressive comeback to the tour from seven months out injured by winning three titles including the Indian Wells Masters last month. The Spaniard pleased the packed crowd with a solid display on the sun-baked Centre Court that has been his stage since 2005.
Dimitrov, who at 21 is making his debut in the Monte Carlo main draw, beat German Florian Mayer 6-2 6-4. Fourth seed Tomas Berdych slumped to a 6-4 6-2 defeat against Fabio Fognini of Italy.
A semi-finalist last year, Berdych, who had to recover from a break down in each set in the previous round to move past Spaniard Marcel Granollers, again struggled with his serve The Czech was broken four times overall and barely managed to unsettle the 32nd-ranked Fognini, who also beat him in the first round here in 2009 Fognini will face seventh seed Richard Gasquet of France or Marin Cilic, seeded nine, in the quarter-finals.
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga opened the day by overwhelming Austrian Juergen Melzer 6-3 6-0 to make it to the last eight and set up a potential clash with world number two Andy Murray, who was taking on Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka later on Thursday.
World number one Novak Djokovic, who is playing despite an ankle injury, was scheduled to meet Juan Monaco of Argentina.