Who said the era of clay court specialists was dead?
Not world No. 1 Andy Murray, or No. 3 Stan Wawrinka.
Both were sent home on Thursday from the Monte Carlo Masters. Murray was outlasted 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 by No. 15 seed Al Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, while Wawrinka was dismissed 6-4, 6-4 by No. 16 seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.
“The most normal thing would be to lose the match,” said Ramos-Vinolas on trailing 0-4 in the third set. “But today it’s one of those days that sometimes happens. I still fought. I was fighting. I was 0-4, and I thought that I need to keep playing every point. Then, at the end, I won. I don’t know what to say.”
Murray knew what to say afterwards.
“A few times today, I made some bad decisions,” the Brit opined. “That’s something that, with my team, I’ll look at, watch some parts of the match over, see the shots that I chose and what I would do differently.”
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic barely escaped a likewise third-round exit, defeating No. 13 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
The Serb saved two break points late in the third set to advance.
“It’s great to overcome the big challenge presented to me today with this kind of win, even though I haven’t played the way I wanted,” he said. “He’s very difficult to play against. He’s always making you play an extra ball. It’s a win I’ll take as a great confidence boost. I’m confident that with dedication and commitment and a positive mindset, I can get to the level where I want to be.”
Other Top 10 winners were No. 4 Rafael Nadal squashing a much-anticipated match-up with No. 14 Alexander Zverev by squashing the German 6-1, 6-1, No. 5 Marin Cilic defeating No. 9 Tomas Berdych 6-2, 7-6(0), and No. 10 David Goffin outlasting and upsetting No. 6 Dominic Thiem 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3.
“I played much better than yesterday [against Kyle Edmund],” Nadal said. “I played more aggressively and I played with a very high intensity from the beginning. I was playing much better with my forehand. I maintained that kind of level for all the match, I think. That was the key.”
On Friday the upset-makers will have another go in the quarterfinals, featuring (2) Djokovic vs. (10) Goffin, (4) Nadal vs. unseeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman, (5) Cilic vs. (15) Ramos-Vinolas, and (11) Lucas Pouille vs. (16) Cuevas.
“Playing in Monte Carlo has a special meaning to me because I live here and I train in this club all year round,” Djokovic said. “I have many friends and family that come and support me. It feels very special. That’s why I always try to give extra effort to really make a good result in this tournament.”
FRIDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
 A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) vs  M. Cilic (CRO)
 P. Cuevas (URU) vs  L. Pouille (FRA)
 D. Goffin (BEL) vs  N. Djokovic (SRB)
D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
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