The big 3 through in Rome

Updated: May 18, 2012

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer reached the Rome Masters quarterfinals on Thursday, but fourth seed Andy Murray suffered another setback in his French Open plans when he crashed out to Richard Gasquet.

Murray, who lost 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-2 to the Frenchman, revealed that he has been carrying a back problem since December but declined to go into details on the symptoms or its treatment.

Top seed Djokovic, the defending champion, staged a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 comeback win over Argentine Juan Monaco while second seeded Nadal was ruthless with fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers, winning 6-1, 6-1.

Djokovic will tackle Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who saw off Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4, 6-1, for a place in the last four.

Federer, the winner of the Madrid Masters, defeated fellow veteran and former world No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 with a dozen aces and four breaks of serve.

Federer improved to 47-3 since last year’s US Open semifinals, winning seven of his past 10 tournaments and returning to No 2 in the world.

Spanish sixth seed David Ferrer knocked out French 11th seed Gilles Simon 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) and will tackle Gasquet.

Ninth-seeded Serena, fresh from her victory in Madrid last weekend, crushed Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain 6-3 6-1, while unseeded Venus upset fifth seed Sam Stosur 6-4 6-3.

Wimbledon champion and fourth seed Petra Kvitova also advanced with a 6-2 5-7 6-2 victory over Sorana Cirstea while China’s Li Na and Italian Flavia Pennetta both won through.