BARCELONA, Spain – Rafael Nadal cruised past Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-3, 6-1 Thursday to set up a quarterfinal against Gael Monfils at the Barcelona Open.
Giraldo looked set to provide a tough challenge for the top-ranked Nadal when he broke the Spaniard's serve to tie it 3-3 in the first set. But the five-time champion responded by breaking right back and dominated the rest of the match on his favorite clay surface.
Nadal, who improved his record in Barcelona to 28-1, will face the seventh-seeded Monfils after he beat fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (7).
"I feel good and that I am close to returning to my best level," said Monfils, who is playing his second tournament since recovering from a wrist injury. "So far this season, I have played four matches on clay and this has been my best."
Nadal will be the clear favorite against Monfils, who has earned a sole victory in seven tries against him.
Even so, the 24-year-old Monfils said he will treat it like any other match.
"It doesn't matter if it's Nadal or any other player, I face the match like any other," he said.
Also, fourth-seeded David Ferrer beat Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-3, 6-2, and will play Jurgen Melzer after the Austrian rallied to beat Albert Montanes 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2.
Ferrer battled gusting wind to break Hanescu in the eighth game of the first set and cruised to victory.
"It wasn't a good day because it was very windy, but I was steady with my serve, so it was a good day," said the two-time finalist.
Later, Juan Carlos Ferrero continues his return from wrist and knee surgery against Simone Vagnozzi. The winner meets either Nikolay Davydenko or Nicolas Almagro.