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Rafa's Best Roland Garros Start Yet!

Paris, France

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal has dropped just 19 games en route to the quarter-finals.

One day after celebrating his 26th birthday, World No. 2 Rafael Nadal marched into the Roland Garros quarter-finals by defeating Argentine Juan Monaco 6-2, 6-0, 6-0.

This is the fourth time in eight appearances at the clay-court Slam that the Spaniard has reached the quarter-finals without the loss of a set. On those previous three occasions, he went on to claim the title.

Nadal had conceded just 10 games to Monaco in their three other clay-court meetings, and once again dominated the 13th-seeded Argentine on Monday. He allowed just two games, breaking Monaco eight times from 10 opportunities during the one hour, 46-minute match.

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"Very happy the way I played," said Nadal. "I think he's playing probably the best tennis of his career, but probably not today, especially the last set, when he started to miss. I saw him suffering a little bit on court at the end. He's one of my best friends on tour. I feel very sorry for him."

The 19 games Nadal has lost en route to the quarter-finals are the fewest in the first four rounds of any of his Roland Garros campaigns. No player has dropped fewer games through the Round of 16 in Paris since 1982, when Guillermo Vilas lost 16 games.

Games lost by Nadal at RG through first four rounds
2005 38
2006 49
2007 33
2008 22
2009 49
2010 34
2011 53
2012 19


See Nadal's complete Roland Garros match history

"I feel really comfortable, really at ease," said Nadal. "When the tournament is over, I'll tell you if this was my best Roland Garros or not. For the time being, I'm still playing. So far, so good, but we'll see."

The six-time champion will next go on to play countryman Nicolas Almagro, the 2012 clay-court match wins leader (28-6 record). The pair also met in the Roland Garros quarter-finals in 2008 and '10. Nadal's 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Almagro in 2008 was the most one-sided Roland Garros quarter-final in the Open Era.

World No. 4 Andy Murray joined Nadal in the quarter-finals as he rallied past Richard Gasquet 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in front of a highly partisan French crowd.  "I enjoyed myself on the court today," said Murray. "It's the most fun I've had on the court in a while, so I wasn't so sort of shying away from the fact that the crowd wanted me to lose."

Murray secured the second set with a break of serve, and held the No. 17 seed to just nine points in the 24-minute third set. He broke Gasquet two more times in the fourth set and served out the victory after two hours and 30 minutes.

"The game was not in my favour," said Gasquet of the turning point at 5-4 in the second set. "And then I lost my confidence, and then he was feeling good. He was in the match. He was really tough to play against. He would make no mistakes on such a big court. He was really a good fighter. It was very difficult for me."

The British No. 1 will be looking to match his best result at Roland Garros, a semi-final showing in 2011 (l. to Nadal), when he next confronts World No. 6 David Ferrer. Murray holds a 5-4 edge over Ferrer in the FedEx ATP Head 2 Head series, but has lost all three of their clay-court matches.

"I've always found it tough against him on clay in matches and in practice," said Murray. "I train with him quite a lot, and I get on very well with him. We know each other's games very well, and he's one of the best players in the world on any surface, so it's going to be a tough match."

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