Montreal : Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal took their appointed places in the quarter-finals of the Montreal Masters as the top pair in the game headed for a possible weekend final showdown.
Top seed Federer turned in a quick-fire 18-minute opening set as he crushed Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-1, taking just 44 minutes to clear the court Thursday.
Nadal’s first set Thursday lasted longer than his rival’s entire match, but after three hours, 11 minutes, the result was the same as the Spaniard, seeded second, outlasted Paul-Henri Mathieu 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“I didn’t play very well today, especially in the last games of the first set and the beginning of the second. I played terrible with my forehand,” Nadal said.
“I have to improve for tomorrow, but I finish the match with better feelings than when I start, so that’s always important.”
The win was the sixth without a defeat for Nadal against the Frenchman. The winner saved nine break points on his way into the last eight at an event that he won in 2005.
Federer has not lost in Canada since 2003, when he was beaten by Andy Roddick in the semi-finals.
Federer was untouchable Thursday as he hammered the world number 139, who booked his surprise place Wednesday by defeating Briton Andy Murray.
The Swiss world number one is bidding to earn the 50th title of his career, just a month after he pulled level with Bjorn Borg on five straight Wimbledon trophies.
“That 18 minutes is really fast, and the games were going quick, my service games, especially,” said Federer, winner of his last 14 matches in Canada.
“I used my chances I had right away. That definitely put a lot of pressure on him. I knew that if I could just press a little bit more in the beginning of the second set that would be it. I was happy it all went my way, and I didn’t have to struggle too much out there today.”
The out-classed challenger could only observe as his opponent won nearly three-quarters of the 37 first-set points and 13 of 14 on first serves.
Serb third seed Novak Djokovic followed Federer’s lead, beating Argentine former top 10 David Nalbandian 6-2, 6-3.
Wimbledon semi-finalist Djokovic has won three titles this season while blasting into the top five for the first time. He is one win from his 50th match victory of 2007.
Russian Nikolay Davydenko beat countryman Mikhail Youzhny 7-6 (10-8), 6-3, while Czech Radek Stepanek knocked out German 12th seed Tommy Haas 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.