Avenging a loss from earlier this year, No. 5 Rafael Nadal swept No. 14 Dominic Thiem in straight sets 7-5 6-3 to advance to the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 quarterfinals Thursday.
Nadal will next face rival and No. 4 Stan Wawrinka for a potential shot at No. 2 Andy Murray in the semifinals, and with No. 1 Novak Djokovic out of the way after his second round loss the Spaniard may be in line for his ninth career clay title in Monaco.
The 29-year-old ousted Thiem in a little over two hours and scored a little payback after the Austrian Thiem, who ousted him from the Argentina semifinals this season. Nadal is now 2-1 against Thiem all-time and was very effective on his first serve, successfully scoring 73 percent of the time.
Nadal, who’s trying to bounce back during clay season after a poor 12-6 start before he reached Monaco, next meets the Swiss Wawrinka and hopes to improve his 14-3 record in their 18th career meeting. Nadal had won 12 straight to start the one-sided rivalry, but Wawrinka’s won three of the last five matches and lost only one set.
The 31-year-old Wawrinka, who is revving up for his French Open title defense, wrapped his third-round match with France’s No. 18 Gilles Simon 6-1 6-2 earlier in the day.