World No. 1 Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori, and former champion Stan Wawrinka and former US Open champion Marin Cilic set up quarterfinal meetings on Monday with wins at the French Open.
Murray looked perhaps his best yet during the tournament, dismissing big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
“I think today was probably the best I have played overall,” Murray said afterwards. “It was difficult conditions. It was pretty windy out there. Each match I feel like I played better. I have hit the ball cleaner and started to see the right shots at the right moments. I’ve come a long way the last 10 days or so.”
His next opponent, the No. 8-seeded Nishikori, recovered from a dismal start to defeat unseeded Fernando Verdasco in a topsy-turvy meeting 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.
Coming off a five-setter, Nishikori looked exhausted from the first set but changed his fortunes around.
“I couldn’t do anything in the first set but I tried to play a little more heavy and a little more aggressive,” he said. “But still it was a really, really tough battle. There was so many long rallies. I don’t know how I got the second and third sets. The fourth, I played perfect tennis.”
The No. 3-seeded Wawrinka edged French favorite and No. 15 seed Gael Monfils 7-5, 7-6(7), 6-2, while Cilic benefited when opponent Kevin Anderson of South Africa retired trailing 3-6, 0-3.
“Gael and I have practiced a lot together, I was expecting a tough match. That’s how it proved,” Wawrinka told the crowd afterwards. “Gael has got a great forehand, he’s one of the best defenders on tour. I knew I had to impose my game on him and send a message that he was going to have to hang tough for three hours if he wanted to beat me.”
Anderson retired against Cilic with a leg injury.
“Apart from at the US Open in ’14, I’m definitely feeling the best on the court,” Cilic said. “Even then I didn’t go through the draw as comfortably as here.”
Matches on tap for Tuesday at Roland Garros are (4) Rafael Nadal vs. (20) Pablo Carreno Busta, and (2) Novak Djokovic vs. (6) Dominic Thiem.
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