Ailing Briton Andy Murray suffered another setback to his French Open preparations as he was ousted 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 by Richard Gasquet in the third round of the Rome Masters on Thursday.
The World No. 4, who continues to be troubled by a long-term back injury, dominated the first set tiebreak, but was made to pay for missing 15 of 17 break points as he lost to the 22nd ranked Frenchman in just under three hours.
Holder Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who he beat in last year's final, reached the last eight in contrasting fashion.
Djokovic demonstrated the art of smashing a racquet as he beat Argentina's Juan Monaco 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 while Nadal made light work of fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers, winning 6-1, 6-1.
Murray had reached the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo but pulled out of the Madrid Masters with a back injury before winning his opening match in Rome.
The Scot said his back had been a problem for several months and admitted it was a concern heading into the French Open, which begins on May 27.
Third seed Roger Federer set up a clash with Italy's Andreas Seppi but only after something of a struggle against former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, winning 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.
In the women's event, it was a good day for the Williams sisters as Serena and Venus reached the quarter finals.
Ninth-seeded Serena, fresh from her victory in Madrid last weekend, crushed Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain 6-3, 6-1, while unseeded Venus upset fifth seed Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-3.
Venus's victory puts her in line for a place in the US Olympic team, a remarkable achievement in her comeback after she was diagnosed with Sjogren's Disease, which saps her energy, during last year's US Open.
Things are likely to get tougher for Venus, though, when she plays holder Maria Sharapova in the last eight.
The Russian saved six set points in the first set before beating former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic 7-6, 6-3.
Wimbledon champion and fourth seed Petra Kvitova also advanced with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Sorana Cirstea while China's Li Na and Italian Flavia Pennetta both won through.
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka pulled out on Wednesday because of an injury to her right shoulder.
Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images