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.

"I think that I am a little bit better than when I was playing against him in Monte Carlo, but I think he's playing great, too." Nadal said. "He played three weeks in a row very high level. It will be a tough one. I know to play against him and to have chances to win I need to play very well."

The back issues that Nadal has referenced may be dissipating. In his second and third matches, the average first-serve speed fell 15 kilometers an hour from the first match, to 165. Monday, it was back up to 173. Nadal, one of four Spaniards to populate the four fourth-round matches in the top half of the men's draw, has 63 career wins here at Roland Garros (and all of one loss), two more than second-place Roger Federer.

Nadal, reacting to the news that King Juan Carlos I was abdicating the Spanish throne after nearly 40 years on the job, said: "I had the great opportunity of meeting him on quite a few occasions. On a personal note, he was always very nice to me, very warm.

"The only thing I can do is to thank His Majesty, the king, for everything he did all along these years."

Bryans' dream dies

Three tournaments ago, the top-seeded doubles team of  Bob and Mike Bryan was hoping to at least win a championship in either Madrid or Rome and come into Paris with 99 career titles. The dream scenario? Win the 100th at the French Open, where they were defending champions, and increase their all-time record for major wins to 16.

It didn't work out that way -- not at all.

The Bryans, age 36, failed to win in Spain or Italy and now, after a surprising quarterfinal loss to No. 12 seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, they are finished in Paris. The score was 6-4, 6-2 and the one-sided affair was over in 69 minutes.

"It didn't start out good," Mike said. "We got broken out of the gate. I felt like we were behind the eight ball from the start. I thought we could have played a little better."

Added Bob: "We haven't gone as deep as we'd like at the Slams. We'll try to get a run going on the grass."

They'll play next at Queen's and Wimbledon.

"I'm going to go on the record and say it's [eventually] going to happen," Mike said.

Granollers and Lopez got a boost when the unseeded team of Marin Draganja and Florin Mergea upset No. 3 seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (5). Those two teams will meet in semifinals.

Et cetera

• No. 1 junior boys seed Francis Tiafoe, who hails from the Washington, D.C. area, was upset in the second round by Jan Choinski of Germany 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Choinski managed to create 17 break-point opportunities, converting six of them.

Shortly after the match, Tiafoe received a text from his brother Franklin that said, "Good luck.'' Obviously, he did not know Tiafoe had just lost. The text did not make Tiafoe happy, but coach Misha Kouznetsov consoled him.

"Right as I got out of the gate, Misha said, it's not about now, it's about later," Tiafoe said. "That was probably the best thing he could say to me at that moment. Obviously, it was a tough loss but you don't want to peak in the juniors, you want to peak in the pros.''

• No. 2 seed Catherine Cartan Bellis of the U.S. beat Emmanuelle Salas of France 6-1, 6-3 to advance to the round of 16, while Henrik Wiersholm of the U.S. defeated Joao Menezes of Brazil 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.