MONTE CARLO, April 14- Top seed Rafael Nadal maintained his traditional momentum at the Monte Carlo Masters Thursday as the Spaniard powered into the quarter-finals 6-2, 6-4, seeing off a French challenge from Richard Gasquet.
The 13th seed from nearby Nice rallied the home crowd momentarily in the second set as sun broke through after morning cloud over the Mediterranean,
Gasquet secured a break-back for 4-4 after losing his serve to the dominating Nadal, now an untouchable 36-1 at the event he has won for the last six years. But Nadal showed why he’s the king of clay as he returned the favour as Gasquet hit the net with a forehand to drop serve.
A game later, Nadal served out the victory in 93 minutes for his eighth victory without a loss against the 18th-ranked Gasquet.
Nadal next faces a seasoned opponent in Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic, who upset Czech fifth seed Thomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2.
Two more Spanish seeds had mixed results in the third round, with number four David Ferrer defeating Canadian breakthrough player Milos Raonic 6-1, 6-3 as the 34th-ranked youngster lost serve five times and committed 40 unforced errors in slower conditions imminently suitable to the grinding Ferrer game.
Serb 11th seed Viktor Troicki reached the last eight as Spain’s Tommy Robredo retired to hand over a 3-6, 2-1 win.
Robredo suffered an adductor injury a month ago in California and was forced to miss the Miami Masters. He resumed training last week in Barcelona.
Three-time finalist Roger Federer was bidding for the quarter-finals as he faced 15th-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic. The Swiss stands 23-4 on the season, with three of his losses coming to undefeated Novak Djokovic and the other to Nadal in Miami.
Third seed Andy Murray was hoping to continue his comeback effort after finally winning his first match since January on Wednesday as he faced french 16th seed Gilles Simon.