Tennis - Monfils kicks off busy French day with win over Baghdatis
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tenth seed Gael Monfils motored into the U.S. Open quarter-finals with a straight-sets dismissal of Marcos Baghdatis on Sunday at the year's last grand slam championship.
Monfils, who has enjoyed a run of success this hard court season, maintained his impressive form with a 6-3 6-2 6-3 romp that kicked off a busy day for the French men's contingent at Flushing Meadows.
In later fourth-round matches on a breezy day at the U.S. National Tennis Center, ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was taking on American 26th seed Jack Sock, and 24th-seeded Lucas Pouille was facing 14-times grand slam winner Rafa Nadal.
Monfils, playing a familiar foe, was well prepared for his round of 16 test and executed his game plan.
"He's a good friend, I know him for a long time," said the 30-year-old Monfils. "We had many battles in juniors and we have many also on the senior tour.
"I had to be very consistent with my serve because he's a pretty good returner. I was very fast on the baseline, so I guess everything was fine today."
Monfils, twice before a U.S. Open quarter-finalist, served up nine aces and gave himself a cushion with six service breaks against the Cypriot, who put only 36 percent of his first serves in play.
In the last couple of months, the Frenchman has posted a 17-2 record, winning the biggest ATP World Tour title of his career at the 500 level tournament in Washington, reaching the semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 in Toronto and advancing to the quarter-finals at the Rio Olympics.
The 31-year-old Baghdatis, runner-up this season in Dubai and a semi-finalist in Newport, was making his first fourth-round showing in a grand slam since the 2009 Australian Open.
Monfils will play either fourth-seeded Nadal or compatriot Pouille for a place in the semi-finals.
(Editing by Rex Gowar)