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Monte Carlo: Grief-stricken Djokovic battles on

April 20, 2012 09:48 IST

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic raised his eyes and arms to the sky after beating Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov to reach the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals on Thursday just hours after learning of the death of his grandfather.

The Serb, who was told about his loss while practising in the morning, struggled to control his emotions when he walked on court for the match and then broke down in tears after completing a gutsy 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Dolgopolov.

Novak DjokovicRafa Nadal ominously moved a step closer to winning a record eighth consecutive title at the principality by demolishing Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1, 6-1.

Nadal will face Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, who defeated Spanish eighth seed Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-3.

In a humid and grey afternoon next to the Mediterranean, Djokovic was warmly welcomed by a packed crowd as the news of his loss spread in the Monte Carlo Country Club alleys.

He was crying as he left the court to thunderous applause two hours later.

"It was very hard for him to play. After he won, he just felt totally exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally," an ATP statement said.

The morning sunshine proved to be a false dawn at the club which was soon drenched in rain. World No. 4 Andy Murray, however, dodged the showers after France's Julien Benneteau retired hurt.

Murray was leading their fiercely contested opening set 6-5 when Benneteau quit, having fallen in the previous game when sliding to a wide ball. Benneteau received lengthy treatment before deciding that he could not continue.

Murray will take on Czech Tomas Berdych, the sixth seed, who defeated Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

As the weather turned grey and cooled down, France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the fourth seed, shrugged off two rain delays to beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 6-2.

He will meet compatriot Gilles Simon, the ninth seed, who moved past Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1.

Photograph: Petar Kujundzic / Reuters

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