Following triumphs over Michael Chang and Davide Sanguinetti, Roger Federer advanced into the last 16 in Monte Carlo in 2001, finding the form on clay for the first success at the Masters 1000 level on the slowest surface.
In the battle for the quarter-final, Federer took down Arnaud Di Pasquale 6-1, 6-2 in 61 minutes, playing his best ATP match on clay in a career up to that point and repeating the result from Miami a couple of weeks earlier where he also competed in the last eight.
Defending his second serve superbly, Federer dropped ten points behind the initial shot and never faced a break point, mounting the pressure on the other side of the net and earning four breaks from 12 opportunities to march over the finish line and set the clash against another Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean.
"My objective for the clay-court season was to reach at least one quarter-final; it's nice that it happened in the first tournament because we never know what will happen in the upcoming weeks. The first two matches were fine and today's was an even better one.
I felt better, I was missing less, and everything worked out well. Although Arnaud wasn't feeling very good, I played an excellent match. I am less sure of my game on clay in comparison to other surfaces; I must always be cautious as I'm not entirely relaxed.
When you grab a break, things start to look more comfortable for you. You make more winners and more aces. Still, you have to play from the baseline on clay and I like to finish the point fast; it's a significant change for me.
But for the time being, everything is going all right; I am not asking myself too many questions. I'm taking my chances to go further, with an opportunity to hit the semis, something I missed against Patrick Rafter in Miami.
There wasn't much I could do, but what else is there to say? I think this was my best victory on clay in terms of keeping focus and control everything from start to finish. In Rome last year, I played well against Medvedev but I lost a few games in a row and found myself 7-5 down in the third despite producing solid tennis. I was dominating from the beginning to the end, from the baseline as well."