Top four sweep into Monte Carlo semis
Roger Federer faces an Australian Open re- match with Novak Djokovic as the top four seeds won into an all-star semi-final lineup at the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday, dpa reported.
Top seed Federer settled a score after losing his last two against David Nalbandian, hammering the Argentine 5-7, 6-2. 6-2.
Novak Djokovic, the number three, ended the Cinderella run of American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-0 as the Californian became the first from his nation to play in the quarters at the event since Vince Spadea five years ago.
Djokovic beat an under-done Federer in the Melbourne semi-finals, with the Swiss suffering with glandular fever.
Now Federer, losing finalist the last two years to Rafael Nadal, is keen to take his revenge after stopping the rot against Nalbandian, who had won their last two encounters.
Second seed Nadal earned his 28th straight victory against a Spanish compatriot with a 6-1, 7-5 dispatch of fifth seed David Ferrer.
Nadal will play on Saturday against Nikolay Davydenko, who struggled for nearly three hours to finally subdue fellow Russian Igor Andreev, posting a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 win.
"I was there all the time, focused, believing in the victory, and believing in the second set, too," said Nadal, "I was two breaks down. That's the most important thing in the second."
Federer continued to gain valuable clay-court confidence as he won his eighth consecutive match on the surface.
Argentine Nalbandian beat Federer indoors at Madrid and Paris last autumn, but the Swiss got his own back on the South American's surface.
But after first denying there was any sweet revenge, Federer had another think.
"It's always nice playing against him. And when you beat him, you always know you're playing well because he's not just going to hand it over to you.
"Actually, he beat me here years ago 6-1, 6-2 (2002 second round). So it's nice to get him back because of that, I guess, more that than because of Madrid or whatever that was." The pair of longtime rivals were playing for the 17th time, with Federer now nudging into a 9-8 lead as they faced off for a seventh straight year.
The Swiss pronounced the victory possibly his best of the season. "I really like this victory today because David's already played in South America on clay, he played Davis Cup on clay.
"He hasn't not played on this surface for a long time. I definitely played my best match of this tournament."
Federer and Nalbandian played almost the perfect opening set, with the first break point cropping up in the 11th game.
Nalbandian struck first after the Swiss top seed saved two break points, taking a 6-5 lead. The Argentine claimed the opener after 52 minutes with a backhand winner of a third set point.
But the Swiss went straight to working the second set, break for 2-0 but giving it back.
Federer's shots began to take a toll, though as he broke Nalbandian's last two serve to square the match at the 90-minute mark,
In the third, Federer kept up the pressure with a break for 4-2 and closed out victory with a winner two games later.
The first major event of the clay season has strictly followed the formbook, with the top six seeds through to the quarters for the first time at the Masters level since 1999 in Cincinnati.