Murray, Nadal roll into quarters


PARIS -- Nearly a year ago, Fernando Verdasco came very close to knocking off eventual champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. The Spaniard won the first two sets handily, but couldn't sustain it.

It was the closest Murray came to losing on his way to becoming the first British man to win the title at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936.

Verdasco, who spent two years inside the ATP World Tour's year-end top 10, is a talented and spirited player, but in 10 previous career meetings he managed only a single victory over Murray.

On Monday he was attempting to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in 11 appearances at Roland Garros and, well, he's going to have to try again next year. Murray took out Verdasco 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (3) and now will play Frenchman  Gael Monfils, who dispatched  Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-0, 6-2, 6-5.

"I thought I dictated as many points as I could today," Murray said of the victory. "It's not always possible, because you're playing against top tennis players. He's got a lot of firepower as well."

As for Monfils, he will certainly have the Roland Garros crowd behind him when he and Murray face off.

"I'm looking forward to the match, the quarterfinals of a Slam," Muray said. "I don't care whether no one in the crowd wants me to win or everyone wants me to win. I will fight just as hard to try and get the right outcome."

For Murray, it's the 13th consecutive time he's reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal, although he missed last year's French Open with a bad back that ended up requiring surgery late last season. He has played four robust matches on clay already and is promised a fifth.

This suggests that he'll be physically fit when he hits the grass at Queen's and attempts to defend his title at Wimbledon.

Prince in the house

The King of Clay was in residence Monday on Court Philippe Chatrier, and a high-ranking member of his court was on hand to witness another straight-sets shellacking.

Prince Rogers Nelson -- you know him by his first name only -- played a concert Sunday night at Le Zénith. He opened with "Let's Go Crazy" and his fifth and final encore was "Purple Rain." Sitting in an inconspicuous spot in the shadows under the stands Monday, Prince wore a gargantuan Afro, sunglasses, a white turtleneck and a navy tunic. Appropriately, he held what looked to be a silver scepter.

As Prince looked on, No.1-seeded Rafael Nadal wrecked Dusan Lajovic, the ATP's No. 83-ranked player who was the longest shot left in either draw. The score was 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 and it was over in a super-swift 93 minutes. Nadal won 83 of 116 points and broke the 23-year-old Serb's serve seven times. Nadal started the second set by winning 17 of 18 points.

His opponent in Wednesday's quarterfinals will be No. 5 seed David Ferrer, who handled No. 19 seed Kevin Anderson in somewhat brisk fashion, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1. It was Ferrer who sent Nadal home from Monte Carlo with a straight-sets win in the quarterfinals.

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