Nadal battles past Thiem in Monte Carlo, sets up Wawrinka showdown

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Madrid, April 15 (IANS) Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal advanced to the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Austria’s Dominic Thiem and will next take on the winner of the 2014 title, Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka.

The 29-year-old Spaniard, who dominated this clay-court event from 2005 to 2012, used his renowned mental toughness to pull out a first set in which he evened the match after falling down an early break and then fended off a whopping 12 break points in the seventh and ninth games to stay on serve Thursday, reports Efe.

Nadal converted two of his five break-point opportunities, the second on set point, to take the opener in one hour and 21 minutes.

The second set also began with the talented young Austrian grabbing an early service break, but Nadal won five of the last six games to take the match in just over two hours.

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Next up on Friday for the fifth-seeded Spaniard will be the fourth-seeded Wawrinka, who routed Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday.

Swiss No. 3 seed Roger Federer, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in early February and on Thursday played just his second match since the Australian Open, rolled to a comfortable 6-2, 6-4 victory over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

Also advancing Thursday to the quarter-finals were No. 2 seed Andy Murray of Britain and 10th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, who defeated France’s Benoit Paire and Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur, respectively, in tight three-set matches.

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