Nadal ruthless, Li crashes out

Updated: June 5, 2012

While rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer made hard work of their fourth round opponents, Rafael Nadal demonstrated just why he has won six-titles at Roland Garros with a ruthless demolition of Juan Monaco.

The defending champion, bidding to become the first man to capture seven singles titles on Paris’ famed red dirt, won 17 games in succession as he coasted into the quarter-finals with a masterful display against the Argentine.

Nadal, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday while title rivals Djokovic and Federer were struggling into the last eight, took his career record in Paris to 49-1 – his only defeat coming to Robin Soderling in 2009.

Monaco, the 12th seed, went into Monday’s match with solid claycourt form under his belt having captured titles in Vina del Mar and Houston this year.

But he had lost all three previous clay meetings against Nadal, claiming just 10 games in the process, and the 28-year-old was swept aside again by the champion in just one hour and 46 minutes on Suzanne Lenglen court.

Countrymen David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro had earlier gone through comfortably.

Sixth-seeded Ferrer cruised past countryman Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-2, 6-0, and 12th seed Almagro pushed aside Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Murray then joined them with a disjointed 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

The Scot will play Ferrer, while Nadal will go for his 50th win at Roland Garros against Almagro.

Joining them in the last eight, in matches held over from Sunday in the opposing top half of the draw, were Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.

Next up for Tsonga will be a meeting with top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who has history-making on his mind too as he bids to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

Del Potro’s  reward will be another crack at third seed Roger Federer, against whom he lost a thrilling five-setter in the 2009 semifinals.

In the ladies draw, Li, who was Asia’s first Grand Slam singles champion when she took the 2011 title, lost her crown at the fourth round stage, going down 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova, the world 142.

Maria Sharapova struggled into the quarterfinals, defeating Czech veteran Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 in an error-scarred clash which featured 21 breaks of serve.