Merciless Nadal beats Ferrero in Monte Carlo

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Juan Carlos Ferrero had high hopes of advancing into the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters but instead smacked into an impenetrable brick wall named Rafael Nadal today.

Nadal's shock fourth round defeat at last year's French Open was long forgotten as the claycourt master, four-times a winner at Roland Garros, powered past his fellow Spaniard 6-4 6-2.

Ferrero, who had won 17 of his 18 matches on the slow surface this season, tried to attack Nadal's backhand. Nadal in turn reacted by stifling Ferrero.

The second seed, looking for a record sixth win in Monte Carlo and a first ATP title in 11 months, will next face compatriot David Ferrer, a 7-5 7-6 winner of German Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The all-Spanish showdown had to be halted midway through the first set after gusting winds and rain caused havoc on court.

World number three Nadal wiped off dust in his eyes in the third game, while VIPs on the terrace had the sunshades pulled back into place after sudden gusts of winds sent white napkins flying.

But Ferrero refused to get distracted by the airborne debris and grabbed a 3-2 lead in the tense encounter when the players were ordered back into the locker room.

While some fans took cover from the elements by draping Spanish flags around their shoulders, a clearly disgusted Nadal wore a grumpy look as he trudged out of centre court for around 30 minutes.

Upon resumption Nadal stepped up a gear to break for 5-4 with a stunning forehand, following up on serve to clinch the opening set with a service winner.

The former world number one kept up pressure, breaking in the first game of the second set as Ferrero gradually ran out of steam - and hope.

A crosscourt forehand winner gave Nadal another break for 4-1, which delighted his father Sebastian who kept a close eye on the match from under his panama hat.

Ferrero found unlikely angles to save a couple match points but bowed to the inevitable on the third, returning a serve into the net.

Ferrer, seeded 11th, ran into a spot of bother against Kohlschreiber.

The Spaniard broke decisively in the 11th game to take the opening set when Kohlschreiber netted a forehand.

With Ferrer serving for the match, Kohlschreiber came out strong to break back to love and send the contest into a tiebreak.

The decider was a no contest, Ferrer winning it 7-1 when Kohlschreiber misfired a routine backhand into the stands as the skies faded to grey.