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 launching a French charge 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.
Ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga followed Monfils’ lead and booked his berth in the last eight with a 6-3 6-3 6-7(7) 6-2 victory over American 26th seed Jack Sock.
Promising young Lucas Pouille, the 24th seed, was the last of a French trio to hit the court in the fourth round, facing fourth-seeded, 14-times grand slam singles winner Rafa Nadal.
Asked who was favorite heading into the second week at Flushing Meadows, Monfils named the world’s top three.
“I think (there) is no question about that. It’s Novak (Djokovic) I think. Novak is the favorite. And then you get Andy (Murray) also. Then you get Stan (Wawrinka).”
Monfils, playing a familiar foe in Cypriot Baghdatis, was well prepared for his last 16 test and executed his game plan.
“He’s a good friend, I’ve known him for a long time,” said the 30-year-old Monfils. “We had many battles in the juniors and we have had 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 a U.S. Open quarter-finalist, served nine aces and gave himself a cushion with six service breaks against Baghdatis, who put only 36 percent of his first serves in play.
In the last couple of months, the Frenchman has a 17-2 record, winning the biggest ATP World Tour title of his career in Washington, reaching the semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 in Toronto and the last eight at the Rio Olympics.
Monfils will play either fourth-seeded Nadal or compatriot Pouille for a place in the U.S. Open semi-finals.
Tsonga will go up against either world number one Djokovic or unseeded Briton Kyle Edmund, who also play later on Sunday.
(Editing by Rex Gowar and Ken Ferris)