World number one Rafael Nadal continued his bid for an 11th Monte Carlo Masters title with a 6-3 6-2 win over Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the last 16.
By SportBrief Reporter
The Spaniard, 31, triumphed in an hour 38 minutes against 21-year-old world number 38 Khachanov while Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem beat Novak Djokovic to set up a quarter-final against Nadal on Friday.
The former world number one lost 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 6-3 in an engrossing match.
The Serb has been on the wane as of late, having not won a Grand Slam title since the 2016 French Open and has failed to reach the last eight in any of his four tournament appearances since making his return following an elbow injury.
“Ideally, I’d want to be playing the way I played for so many years, but obviously patience is required,” said Djokovic, who confirmed he will play in either Budapest or Barcelona next week as a wildcard.
“I really believe if I continue doing what I’m doing, believing in myself, I know eventually I’m going to get there.”
Djokovic, who has slipped to 13th in the rankings, showed glimpses of his best form against Thiem, whom he described as a “top-three player in the world on clay”.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion saved three set points at 5-2 down in the first, breaking back to level at 5-5 and taking the tie-break with his first set point.
However, he was outclassed in the second set and seemed to fade in the decider, Thiem claiming his first break point for 4-3 and taking Djokovic’s serve again to win after almost two and a half hours.