Rafael Nadal continued his bid for a record 12th Monte Carlo Open title after a straight-set win, 6-4, 6-1, over Grogor Dimitrov on Thursday.
Nadal, who dropped only two games in his opener against Roberto Bautista Agut, won eight of the last last nine games in his round of 16 match against Dimitrov. He has now beaten the Bulgarian 12 times in 13 tries. The last time they met was in the Monte Carlo semifinal, which the Spaniard won en route to his record 11th title.
It has been a positive start for the No. 2 seed, who is playing his first tournament since withdrawing from Indian Wells semifinal against Roger Federer due to a right knee injury. He's aiming to win his 12th Monte Carlo Open and his fourth consecutive trophy. The last man to conquer Nadal in the Principality was Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semifinal. The No. 1-seeded Serb is still alive in the draw after securing a convincing straight-set win over 21-year-old Taylor Fritz earlier on Thursday.
Nadal next plays Guido Pella, who beat Marco Cecchinato. It will be a first meeting between the two.