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Paes, Melzer bow out

- Contrasting victories for Novak Djokovic & Rafa Nadal

Monte Carlo: Leander Paes and Jurgen Melzer lost their men’s doubles quarter-final clash against the top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan here at the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday.

The Bryan brothers won 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 in one hour and 13 minutes to proceed to the semi-finals of the 1000-point ATP clay court tournament.

The Indo-Austrian pair broke the top seeds twice in as many chances they got to get past the tough first set. Paes-Melzer quashed six of the seven breakpoint chances of the Americans.

Bob and Mike returned the favour by breaking the only game in the second set and taking the match into the decider.

In the deciding super tiebreak, the unseeded men were no match for the Bryan brothers who easily raced away to 10 points and will now face Canada-Australian pair of Milos Raonic and Bernard Tomic in the last four on Saturday.

In the singles, eight-time champion Rafael Nadal was taken to the brink by Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov before completing a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory to reach the semi-finals.

Nadal, who made an unusual number of errors and looked uncomfortable throughout against his 21-year-old opponent, slowly ground him down and fired an ace to clinch his 45th successive victory at the first big claycourt event of the season.

The Spaniard now has a 47-1 win-loss record at the glamorous venue and will next face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 on the picturesque Centre Court to reach the last four for the first time.

The top-ranked Djokovic had less of a struggle against Jarkko Nieminen, beating the Finnish veteran 6-4, 6-3 and getting through another test on his troublesome right ankle.

Nadal had his share of applause after keeping his bid for a ninth consecutive crown alive by the Mediterranean, where he is coming back from a month-long break after winning three titles including the Indian Wells Masters following seven months out with injury.

“I had a fantastic first set and that's important. That means my level is here,” Nadal told a news conference.

“I am losing a bit of intensity at some moments. That's normal after a long time out of competition,” added the Spaniard.

In the other half of the draw, Fabio Fognini beat seventh-seed Richard Gasquet 7-6, 6-2 .

The 32nd-ranked Italian, who enjoyed huge support in a stadium located just kilometres away from his country, will next face Djokovic .