Tennis / Sports

Nadal aims for revenge in Ferrer Paris showdown

PARIS -- Rafael Nadal crushed Serb Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 Monday to start the second week of the French Open on form as the eight-time champion prepares to play a compatriot who beat him only weeks ago on the clay.

The top seed, who has lost just 23 games from four Roland Garros matches, will take on David Ferrer after the scrambling fifth seed defeated Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1.

Nadal beat Ferrer for the Paris title a year ago, one of 21 victories he holds in their series. But Ferrer won his sixth against the king of clay in an April Monte Carlo quarterfinal shocker, which got Nadal's spring season off to a poor start.

"He is coming to the match with confidence from his last win, so it will be a tough one," said Nadal, who mentioned back pain during his last matches but refused to comment about it Monday.

"I think I am a little bit better than when I was playing against him in Monte Carlo, but I think he's playing great, too," Nadal said. "He played three weeks in a row, very high level. In Madrid, he played great. In Rome, he played great, and he's playing great here."

Ferrer admitted Nadal represents a tough challenge, particularly on clay but shared his strategy: "I'll try to play aggressively with my forehand and try to finish the points on the net."

Nadal had his way against Lajovic, a Paris first-timer ranked 83rd. The Spaniard needed just more than 90 minutes to run his Roland Garros record to 63-1.

The world's No. 1 player is bidding to become the first to win five-consecutive titles at the event.

Nadal took control early and never lost it, winning the first 17 points of the second set and suffering his only minor hiccup as Lajovic somehow broke for 1-5 trailing badly in the third set.

But Nadal quickly quelled that rebellion with a break-back to take the victory.

Andy Murray continued his unexpected surge through the field as the seventh seed sent out Spain's Fernando Verdasco in a comfortable 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) win to reach a grand slam quarterfinal for the 13th-straight time. (He missed Paris 2013 with a back injury.)

French showman Gael Monfils thrilled home fans by defeating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to move into the last eight to next face Murray.

"He's in good shape now because he beat in three sets Verdasco," Monfils said. "That was a big challenge."

On the women's side, fourth-seeded Simona Halep, the highest seed remaining, beat Sloane Stephens of the United States 6-4, 6-3.

"She's better, I think, on hard court, but I'm better on clay, so I had an advantage." said Halep, runner-up to Maria Sharapova in Madrid.

"I managed the match very well," she said. "I wanted her to run a lot. I played aggressive and dominated the match."

Andrea Petkovic beat Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 to reach her fourth quarterfinal at a grand slam but her first since 2011, having suffered a series of injuries.

The German will play Italian 10th-seed Sara Errani, who put out sixth-seed Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

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