MONTE CARLO, Monaco - World number one Rafael Nadal cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Russian Karen Khachanov on Thursday to set up a Monte Carlo Masters quarter-final against Dominic Thiem, after the Austrian stunned Novak Djokovic.
Nadal needs to win an 11th Monte Carlo title to stay clear of Roger Federer at the top of the world rankings, and the 16-time Grand Slam champion made short work of Khachanov in Monaco.
Khachanov held his own at times in the opening set, but Nadal moved through the gears and claimed his second comfortable victory of the week after his opening win over Aljaz Bedene.
Thiem should provide a sterner test in the last eight, after the fifth seed came from a set down to beat Djokovic.
Nadal has lost twice to Thiem on clay, but produced a dominant display in the French Open semi-finals last year en route to his 10th Roland Garros title.
The 31-year-old wasted no time in making his presence felt on Thursday, breaking to love in the second game as Khachanov felt the brunt of the Spaniard's forehand.
But the big-hitting Russian grew into the match and broke back as Nadal sent a backhand spinning wide.
That was as good as it got though for Khachanov, as Nadal quickly restored his two-game cushion and served out the opening set to love.
Nadal is bidding for a record 31st Masters title and 24th on clay, and he was far too good for his 21-year-old opponent in the second set.
He took the first two games in quickfire time, before breaking again to lead 4-1 with the help of a raking crosscourt forehand.
And Nadal wrapped up a straight-sets triumph with a ruthless smash on his first match point.