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Federer Breezes Into Monte-Carlo QFs

Federer goes on to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Roger Federer may have been off tour for two months, but the Swiss is showing no signs of rust at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he is through to the quarter-finals after defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday.

“As the match progressed, I felt better and better,” Federer said. “Once I made the break, I was able to relax a little more. I'm happy with what I did. He's a good player.”

The third-seeded Federer swept past Bautista Agut in 69 minutes, winning 73 per cent of his service points and breaking serve three times. He improved to a 5-0 head-to-head record over Bautista Agut, who has made a strong start in 2016, compiling a 20-7 mark and winning titles in Auckland (d. Sock) and Sofia (d. Troicki).

“As long as I can go into a match feeling alright, then during the match I'm not thinking about it,” said Federer of his recovery from knee surgery. “I'm getting closer to the peak in the sense of maximum movement against the best players on a tough surface.

“I’ll be resting for the next couple of weeks anyway, so even if I get a setback for a couple of days, I can take as much time as I need. I feel like I'm in a great place right now.”

The 34-year-old Federer returned to action at the Monte-Carlo Country Club after being sidelined since the Australian Open, first with a torn meniscus in his left knee that required arthroscopic surgery, then illness in Miami. The Basel native beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straight sets in his opening match and now goes on to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Eighth seed Tsonga won an all-French clash with Lucas Pouille in the last match of the day, beating the wild card 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 35 minutes. In the pair’s first tour-level meeting, Tsonga won 72 per cent of his service points and converted two of his nine break points.

Tsonga trails Federer 5-11 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head, but did beat the Swiss in their last meeting two years ago in the Toronto final. They also met in the Monte-Carlo quarter-finals in 2014, with Federer winning that contest in three sets.

Federer is a four-time finalist in Monte-Carlo and is looking to add the elusive crown to his collection of 24 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies. The right-hander reached three straight finals from 2006-08, losing to Rafael Nadal, and lost out to countryman Stan Wawrinka in the 2014 title match.

Gael Monfils downed Jiri Vesely 6-1, 6-2 in just 68 minutes, one day after the 22-year-old Vesely had recorded the biggest win of his career by stunning World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic.

"I played a good match," said Monfils. "I was broken in the first game. He made good drop shots. He imposed a strange rhythm. That made me more tense. I didn't expect drop shots that early in the match.

"But I was lucky to break him back immediately. Then we had some rallies. I was trying to hit to his forehand. He gave me many points on his forehand. He wasn't at ease with that shot today.

"Of course, when you play a big match the day before, it's always difficult to play again the next day. There are two solutions: either you play very well the next day or it's very tough. I believe for him today it was not that good."

Monfils has an 18-5 record in 2016, reaching the final in Rotterdam (l. to Klizan) as well as the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (l. to Raonic), Indian Wells (l. to Raonic) and Miami (l. to Nishikori).

The right-hander is bidding to reach the semi-finals at the Monte-Carlo Country Club for the second year in a row, after beating Federer en route to the final four last year (l. to Berdych). He goes on to face lucky loser Marcel Granollers.

Granollers has seized his opportunity after taking the place of the injured David Ferrer in the draw. The Spaniard battled past #NextGen star Alexander Zverev on Wednesday night and followed up with a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory over 11th seed David Goffin.

The 30-year-old Granollers is through to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final since Rome 2013 (l. to Paire). The right-hander has a 3-1 head-to-head record over Monfils, whom he has beaten in their past three meetings.

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