Rafael Nadal scorched his way into the 2018 Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals on Friday after he thrashed Dominic Thiem 6-0, 6-2 to move into the next round, where he'll face Grigor Dimitrov.
The Spaniard's superiority on clay guided him to a seamless victory over fifth-seed Thiem, who struggled from the offset in their quarter-final clash, while Nadal is still yet to drop a set in three matches.
Dimitrov booked his place with the first straight-sets win of his tournament, on the other hand, beating Belgium's David Goffin 6-4, 7-6 (5) to set up a meeting with Nadal in the last four.
Unseeded Kei Nishikori will also continue his his quest for the Monte Carlo Masters crown after knocking out No. 2 seed Marin Cilic in three sets. The final quarter-final saw Alexander Zverev recover from going a set down to beat Richard Gasquet.
Read on for a breakdown of Friday's results from the Monte Carlo Masters and highlights of the day's best action.
Friday Results, Schedule
(4) Grigor Dimitrov bt. (6) David Goffin: 6-4, 7-6 (5)
(1) Rafael Nadal bt. (5) Dominic Thiem: 6-0, 6-2
Kei Nishikori bt. (2) Marin Cilic: 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3
(3) Alexander Zverev bt. Richard Gasquet: 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
Visit the official website for a look at the draw in full.
Nadal was relentless setting the pace for Friday's face-off against Thiem, who suffered a bagel despite saving seven break points in the first set alone, his foe on a warpath to add to his record 10 Monte Carlo titles.
Thiem contributed a disappointing three double faults to his own demise, but Stuart Fraser of The Times lauded a master at work as Nadal continued his title defence with glorious confidence:
It's strange to imagine a Masters quarter-final going so one-sidedly in a clash between two of the world's top 10, particularly given Thiem's credentials on clay.
Only after a first set without so much as a game point and nine consecutive games going in Nadal's favour did Thiem get on the board, and tennis writer Nick Nemeroff praised the former:
Yet Nadal pulled his opponent across the court with relative ease, Thiem winning only seven return points all match, per ProTennisLive.com. The world No. 1 leaned on his service game in the second set and struts into the semis, with Austrian Thiem glad for a couple of consolatory games in the end.
Earlier on Friday, Dimitrov improved an already imperious career record against Goffin and clinched his seventh win over the Belgian in a little less than two hours, triumphing 6-4, 7-6 (5).
It was unsurprising to see Dimitrov decide to pull out of the doubles competition, per the ATP's Enrico Maria Riva, considering the magnitude of the challenge coming his way:
The Bulgarian victor was hardly perfect in his performance and showed errors Nadal will be more liable to punish, but he also dazzled with a superb array of backhand and forehand gems.
Dimitrov was particularly tested at 4-0 down in the second set, when he won six of the final seven games—including the tiebreak—to send Nadal a message of intent and his pedigree in playing under pressure.
Friday also saw second seed Cilic fall to Nishikori in three sets. Nishikori served strongly throughout and secured the first set 6-4 after netting the only break in the fifth game.
Cilic had treatment on a knee injury in the second set and Nishikori had chances to win it but wasted three match points at 5-4. The Croatian responded by claiming the set on a tie-break to force a decider.
Nishikori was not to be denied though and broke again in the third set for his first top five win in 2018, per Tennis TV:
The 28-year-old will now face third seed Alexander Zverev after he ended Richard Gasquet's challenge in three sets.