Montpellier, France, Feb 3: Defending champion Gael Monfils finished off Michael Russell of the United States with his 17th ace in winning 6-3, 6-3 to reach the Open Sud de France quarterfinals on Thursday.
Russell double-faulted to drop serve at 3-3 and lost the opening set on a forehand error. The third-seeded Monfils capitalized on a backhand error from Russell to break for a 3-1 lead in the second set.
Monfils next plays eighth-seeded Jarkko Nieminen, who dismissed French wild card Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6 (4), 6-1.
Nieminen is enjoying a good run of form as he won the Sydney International last month, while Mathieu returned to the ATP Tour this week after missing the 2011 season because of a knee injury.
The top-seeded Tomas Berdych cruised past French qualifier Florent Serra 6-0, 6-2 in another second-round match.
Berdych, recovered from his grueling quarterfinal loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, broke Serra five times to set up a match against Nicolas Mahut of France, who beat sixth-seeded Florian Mayer 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Mahut jumped out to 4-1 in the tiebreaker and took the first set when Mayer double-faulted. He broke the German twice in the final set to clinch victory.