Eight-time defending champion Rafael Nadal extended his Monte Carlo Masters winning streak to 44 matches by beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-4 Thursday, while second-seeded Andy Murray was thrashed 6-1, 6-2 by Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic put his sore right ankle to the test again as he came back from a set down for the second straight match to beat Juan Monaco of Argentina 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Murray dropped serve five times and made a number of sloppy unforced errors, lasting less than an hour against the 13th-seeded Wawrinka, who had won their two only previous meetings on clay. Murray was jeered off the court.
"Just looked at the stats … 24 unforced errors is far too many. That's a set's worth. That's where half the points went," a despondent Murray said. "I hope that's not going to be the case over the next five, six weeks. I've had tough losses on the clay before and I've come back well from them. Hopefully today will be the same."
Murray won less than half of his first-serve points and his touch was off throughout the match.
"I made a lot of mistakes, from both sides," Murray said. "I would have to watch the match again."
Wawrinka says Murray's negative body language is easy to read when he's not playing well on clay.
"I think when he's not feeling that good, he cannot just play from the baseline against me. For me it's perfect because he's playing so slow," Wawrinka said. "You never expect to beat a top-four player, especially that easy."
Sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced with a clinical 6-3, 6-0 win against Jurgen Melzer, breaking the Austrian player four times, and fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych again struggled on his serve as he lost 6-4, 6-2 to Italian Fabio Fognini.
The third-seeded Nadal comfortably dispatched Kohlschreiber without facing a single break point. The Spaniard next faces Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.
"He's playing well," Nadal said. "He's able to play very well, very aggressive, very good technique. He's [a] complete player."
Nadal picked off Kohlschreiber from the back of the court, clipping a forehand winner past him to break and then holding to love to move 5-3 up in the second set.
"I think I was on control with my serve almost every time," said Nadal, who had dropped his serve once and saved break points in his second-round win against Marinko Matosevic.
He served out the match, clinching victory when the German scooped a backhand into the net.
'Another tough match'
Djokovic did a skip of delight when the 14th-seeded Monaco sent a return long on match point. The Serb had twisted his right ankle on Davis Cup duty against the United States a little less than two weeks ago and had been doubtful to play at Monte Carlo, where he lost to Nadal in last year's final.
"It was very difficult for me today," Djokovic said. "Another tough match. I am trying to take things day by day. I didn't know what to expect today and I'm really glad that I won."
Djokovic had a lengthy chat with a trainer at the end of the first set and decided to carry on playing. He went up a break early in the second set and held for 3-0. He plays either fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro or Jarkko Nieminen in the quarter-finals.
Tsonga did not concede a single break point and took a little under one hour to win, setting up a quarterfinal against Wawrinka.
"He's playing really fast," Wawrinka said. "He's a really, really good clay court player."
Tsonga broke at the start of the second set when he sent a powerful forehand down the line that Melzer could not return, and secured another break in Melzer's next service game when the Austrian was forced to the back of the court and sliced a backhand into the net.
"It's difficult to assess my game because he was not really playing his best," Tsonga said.
The 21-year-old Dimitrov beat Florian Mayer of Germany 6-2, 6-4 and Nadal is wary of him.
"I have to try to be solid all the time and put him in not easy positions to attack the ball," Nadal said.
Fognini next plays seventh-seeded Richard Gasquet after he beat No. 9 Marin Cilic 7-5, 6-4.