Rafael Nadal has showed traces of his classic clay-court form as eight-time winner of the Monte Carlo Masters to hammer French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 6-1 6-4 in a one-sided quarter-final.
It took the Spanish fifth seed just 77 minutes to impose his game on the Swiss, who cracked a racquet gracefully over his knee during a month of frustration in the fifth game as he lost the opening set in a quick 26 minutes on Friday.
Things went little better for Wawrinka in the second set as he went down to defeat with 29 unforced errors, losing serve four times.
The victory puts Nadal into a third career Monte Carlo semi-final against Andy Murray after the second seed crushed injured Milos Raonic 6-2 6-0.
Nadal denied Murray in the 2009 and 2011 semis and has won three of their past four matches dating to 2014.
Four-time finalist Roger Federer was bidding for the final four as his return from early February knee surgery continues on course during his first week back on court.
The third seed was facing Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, seeded eighth. In the last of the quarter-finals, French 13th seed Gael Monfils was playing Spaniard Marcel Granollers.
Murray’s outcome against 10th seed Raonic was never in doubt, with the Canadian nursing a leg muscle injury which has flared up this week.
Murray said he finally played a decent match after scrapping through two less than satisfying efforts in the previous few days.
“I’ve played a lot of tennis, though it has all not been of the highest quality,” said the 28-year-old.
“I’ve been able to learn from my previous matches. Today I served one of my best matches.
“Milos was not at his best, he can certainly serve better than today.
“I’m looking forward to the semi-finals.”
Raonic, usually noted for his big serve, was held to nil aces in the contest.
Murray improved to 5-3 as the Scotsman tries to back up the best clay season of his career from 2015 when he won his first two clay titles in Munich and Madrid.