Thiem beaten in Monte Carlo, serene progress for Nadal and Djokovic
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal progressed at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday, but Dominic Thiem, another potential contender, fell short of the quarter-final stage.
Djokovic defeated Taylor Fritz 6-3 6-0, while Nadal racked up a 70th Monte Carlo win against Grigor Dimitrov, who went down 6-4 6-1.
Yet Thiem was on the wrong end of an upset on Court des Princes, where Dusan Lajovic ran out a 6-3 6-3 winner.
NOVAK AND NADAL BATTLE THE ELEMENTS
Djokovic and Nadal both advanced in two sets, but the windy conditions did appear to cause all players involved on Thursday some issues.
Nadal said afterwards: "It was not an easy day. There was a lot of wind.
"Everybody prefers to play with no wind. But being from an island like Mallorca, there is some wind there, too, so I am more or less used to playing like this."
As well as the wind, Djokovic was getting to grips with the clay, adding: "It's a very unpredictable surface. There's nothing you can expect. You expect the unexpected."
CONTRASTING FORTUNES FOR CLAY APPRENTICES
Nadal is considered the clay king, but Thiem and, now, Guido Pella are garnering reputations for impressing on the red dirt, too.
There were mixed fortunes for the pair on Wednesday, though, as Thiem was dumped out by Lajovic to leave one quarter of the draw without a seed.
Lajovic led 5-0 in the opener before allowing Thiem back in. The Serbian finally sealed the set and then recovered from an early break in the second to set up a meeting with qualifier Lorenzo Sonego, who defeated Cameron Norrie.
Meanwhile, Pella has won more clay-court matches than any other player on the ATP Tour this year and his latest was a three-set upset of Marco Cecchinato. He plays Nadal next.
.@guido_pella d.  Cecchinato 64 46 64 @RolexMCMasters to reach his 1st #ATPMasters1000 QF. Pella leads the @ATP_Tour with the most clay court wins (14-3) this season. Pella won his 1st #ATPTour title @BrasilOpenTenis and is 1 of 8 1st-time champions in 2019.— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) April 18, 2019
ZVEREV SLUMP CONTINUES
It has been a testing year for world number three Alexander Zverev, who is yet to win a title in 2019 and has battled an ankle injury and illness.
After losing a second-round contest as a wildcard to Jaume Munar in Morocco, Zverev suffered a disappointing defeat, this time in a 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 loss to the experienced Fabio Fognini.
Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas also bit the dust in a three-set loss to Daniil Medvedev but Borna Coric was too good for Pierre-Hugues Herbert in a 6-4 6-4 victory.