Murray Routed in Monte Carlo

MONACO – Eight-time defending champion Rafael Nadal extended his Monte Carlo Masters winning streak to 44 matches by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-4 Thursday, while second-ranked Andy Murray was routed 6-1, 6-2 by Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic put his sore right ankle to the test again, rallying from a set down for the second straight match to beat Juan Monaco of Argentina 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

“I’m not physically out there feeling my best,” Djokovic said. “(It) somehow feels that I always miss that half a step, you know. But I’m trying. I’m fighting. After I lost the first set today, I tried to find that inner strength. I found it again.”

Djokovic will play Jarkko Nieminen in the quarterfinals after the Finn edged Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4).

Nieminen sealed victory on his second match point when del Potro sent a big forehand wide. Both players dropped serve five times.

Murray also dropped serve five times and made a number of unforced errors. He lasted less than an hour against the 13th-seeded Wawrinka, who had won their two only previous meetings on clay.

Murray was jeered off the court.

Earlier, Nadal dispatched Kohlschreiber without facing a single break point. The Spaniard will face Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals.

Nadal clipped a forehand winner past Kohlschreiber to break and held at love to move up 5-3 in the second set. He served out the match, clinching victory when the German scooped a backhand into the net.

Djokovic skipped with delight after the 14th-seeded Monaco sent a return long on match point. The Serb had twisted his right ankle on Davis Cup duty against the United States a little less than two weeks ago and had been doubtful to play at Monte Carlo, where he lost to Nadal in last year’s final.

Djokovic had a lengthy chat with a trainer at the end of the first set and decided to keep playing. He went up a break early in the second set and held for 3-0. He’ll play either fifth-seeded Jarkko Nieminen, of Finland, in the quarterfinals.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced with a 6-3, 6-0 win against Jurgen Melzer, breaking the Austrian player four times. Tomas Berdych again struggled with his serve and lost 6-4, 6-2 to Italian Fabio Fognini.

“It’s difficult to assess my game because he was not really playing his best,” Tsonga said. “But I’m happy I was able to do the job. When you play tennis, you always try for perfection.”

Fognini will play seventh-seeded Richard Gasquet, who defeated Marin Cilic 7-5, 6-4.