Barcelona: Rafael Nadal beat Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday to set up a quarterfinal against Gael Monfils at the Barcelona Open.
Giraldo looked set to provide a tough challenge for the heavily favored Nadal when he broke the Spaniard's serve to level at 3-3 in the first set. But the five-time champion responded by breaking right back and then dominated the rest of the match on his favorite clay surface.
"Giraldo is an unpredictable player," said Nadal. "He has very quick hands, hits flat and has a powerful drive. If he develops he can be one of the best."
Nadal, who improved his record in Barcelona to 28-1, will face the seventh-seeded Monfils after he beat fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (7).
"You have to remember that (Monfils) is a player who has made it to the semifinals of Roland Garros, he's in the top 10," said Nadal. "I imagine that tomorrow he will come out aggressive, so I will have to make him play as far back as possible."
Nadal will again begin as the clear favorite against Monfils, who has earned a sole victory in seven tries against the world's top-ranked player.
Even so, the 24-year-old Monfils said he will treat it like any other match.
"It doesn't matter if it's Nadal or any other player, I face the match like any other," said Monfils, who is playing only his second tournament since recovering from a wrist injury. "I feel good and that I am close to returning to my best level.
"So far this season I have played four matches on clay and this has been my best."
Also, fourth-seeded David Ferrer beat Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-3, 6-2, and will play Jurgen Melzer after the Austrian rallied to beat Albert Montanes 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2.
Ferrer battled gusting winds to break Hanescu in the eighth game of the first set and then cruised to victory.
"It wasn't a good day because it was very windy, but I was steady with my serve, so it was a good day," said the two-time finalist.
Nicolas Almagro moved into the ATP top 10 after coming back from 5-2 down in the first set to defeat Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 (2), 6-3.
"I knew that this match could have a prize and I tried not to think about it, but I'm not made of stone," said the 25-year-old Spaniard. "This was my third shot at breaking into the top 10, and it was great to finally do so at home in front of my people."
Almagro will face Juan Carlos Ferrero after the former No. 1 downed Simone Vagnozzi of Italy 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 in his third match since returning from undergoing wrist and knee surgery in October.
Ivan Dodig tries to follow up his win over third-seeded Robin Soderling by beating Milos Raonic, while Kei Nishikori of Japan meets Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.