April 18, 2014
Federer crushed as Nadal wins match
Roger Federer was blown away 6-4 6-4 by Juergen Melzer in the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals but Rafa Nadal stormed through as the gap between the two great rivals widened further.
While holder Nadal powered past Croat Ivan Ljubicic 6-1 6-3 to set up a semi-final with Andy Murray, Federer continued his sticky start to the season as Melzer deserved to seal his last four spot against David Ferrer.
Windy conditions caused problems on center court during Federer's match, with huge waves in the bay just behind the open arena and the fluttering flags showing just how blustery it was.
Dust from the clay was flying up into the players' faces but Federer can have few excuses having netted several simple forehands and a smash against the seventh-seeded Austrian, who recovered from a slight back injury suffered in the first game.
Melzer stormed back and never let 16-times grand slam champion Federer settle, taking two of his break point opportunities with gusto while limiting the Swiss's ability to fight back in the first clay event of the European season.
"He did well and played aggressive. He didn't give me many chances," Federer, who has never taken the Monte Carlo title and last won a tournament at Doha in early January, told reporters.
"I didn't think I played terrible. It's the first week of play (on clay) so I didn't expect to play my best. It's been a solid tournament."
The French Open starts on May 22 and although Federer was impressive in his first two matches here, Nadal looks the clear favorite to retain his Roland Garros title even if in-form Novak Djokovic is waiting in the wings with a minor knee injury.
Top seed Nadal broke Ljubicic in the first game of the first set only to immediately lose the advantage by double-faulting but he broke again straight away when the Croatian netted a simple volley.
The rest was a procession for Nadal, who won every claycourt tournament he entered last year and is bidding here to become the first man to claim the same event seven times in a row.
"It was a very difficult day with the wind. In general it was a very positive victory," Nadal said.
"It's always a surprise when Roger loses. It's unbelievable what he has done in the sport."
Briton Murray, who had not won a match in almost three months before this week, continued his revival with a rampant 6-2 6-1 triumph over Portuguese qualifier Frederico Gil.
The number three seed avoided the crowd boos which followed his use of drop shots against injured Frenchman Gilles Simon in yesterday's third round but knows he will be up against fan favorite Nadal tomorrow in what is already a daunting task.