Monte Carlo Flashback: Rafael Nadal fires 32 winners and beats Karen Khachanov

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Monte Carlo Flashback: Rafael Nadal fires 32 winners and beats Karen Khachanov

The defending champion Rafael Nadal made his 14th Monte Carlo Masters 1000 quarter-final from 15 appearances in 2018. Rafa scored a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Karen Khachanov in an hour and 19 minutes to find himself in the last eight.

It was their third meeting, and Nadal scored a dominant triumph to remain on the title course. Rafa did everything right to control the pace in the rallies, and despite some loose forehands, it was another solid performance from world no.

1 on serve and return. Nadal had one poor service game, but his serve was not in danger. He dropped 12 points in nine service games for eight easy holds and the pressure on Khachanov's side of the net. The youngster could not impose his shots and penetrate Nadal from the baseline, serving at only 43% and hitting seven service winners, insufficient to keep him safe.

Nadal claimed half of the return points and earned seven break chances, converting two in each set to control the scoreboard.

Rafael Nadal lost five games against Karen Khachanov in Monte Carlo 2018.

The Spaniard cemented his backhand and forced Khachanov to play risky shots to find some open space, which did not end up nicely for him.

In addition, Rafa tamed his strokes more efficiently to reduce the number of errors and overpower his opponent with deep and accurate shots that gave him the upper hand in the exchanges. Nadal was 10-7 in front in service winners, never a good sign for his rivals on clay.

He overpowered Karen 22-9 in terms of the winners from the court, firing 11 from his forehand. They had a similar number of unforced errors (15-14 for Karen), and the Russian made more forced errors, 7-4. That was another element where he had to push Nadal to the limits to stand a chance in this encounter, failing to mix up his game and force the Spaniard to hit from more awkward positions.

Rafa had 32 winners and 19 errors, while Karen placed 16 winners with 24 mistakes, far from enough to challenge Rafa on a more serious level. Khachanov stayed in touch in the shortest points up to four strokes, trailing 26-22.

Still, he could not keep the pace in the longer rallies, losing 30 out of 43 points that reached the fifth shot. Rafa broke Karen's resistance in the mid-range exchanges (15-6), constructing the points nicely and holding them on his racquet to race over the top.