Rome Masters - Federer beats Ferrero, Djokovic pulls off win
This was Federer's and Ferrero's first meeting in five years and the veteran Spaniard was impressive, Federer at times struggling to overcome his opponent's consistency.
The Swiss was impeccable in the opening set though, spraying winners around at will and holding his serve with consummate ease. Ferrero managed to hang on for 2-2, but Federer won the next four to take it.
Everyone watching was expecting a stroll through the second set for Federer, but Ferrero's ability and more importantly his nerve shone through.
He stayed with the Swiss game for game as Federer's level dropped slightly. It looked like it was drifting for a tie break, but in the 11th Ferrero struck.
A vicious backhand winner up the line gave him the opportunity and Federer hit the forehand error, meaning the Spaniard only had to stay solid on serve to take the set.
In the end Federer's superior shot making ability told as he hit 46 winners in the match to Ferrero's 12. Federer raised his game to at times ridiculous levels in the third set. Ferrero managed to win just the one game as the Swiss hit some astonishing winners off his backhand side.
The point of the match came on break point in the penultimate game as both players hit an array of groundstrokes before Federer ripped an unplayable backhand up the line.
The shot of the match came on match point as Federer came to the net and hit a stylish backhand smash to take it. The form player of 2012 continues his run and is looking ominous going into Roland Garros.
World number one Novak Djokovic also came through a tough match to reach the quarter-finals, coming from a set behind to beat Juan Monaco 4-6 6-2 6-3.
The Serb struggled to come to terms with the conditions on a windswept afternoon in the Italian capital, but eventually booked his place in the last eight against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who outclassed Juan Martin del Potro in a 6-4 6-1 win during the evening session.
In the fourth and fifth games, as the change of ends favoured him, Monaco took the match to Djokovic and was rewarded with a break of the defending champion's serve to go 3-2 up.
World number 15 Monaco had not taken a set off Djokovic in the last three of their five previous meetings, but he ended that poor run which stretches back to the 2007 US Open.
Djokovic did raise his level to save two break points in the ninth game - and see one of his own denied by an exquisite drop shot in the following game - but Monaco was able to hold out and take the first set of their maiden match on clay.
During it Djokovic smashed his racket to pieces in frustration, but emerged for the second set with far more focus.
"I hope the children watching don't do that," a smiling Djokovic later said of his racquet-smashing. "But I show my emotions out there. That's who I am."
Monaco again broke early in the set, but this time Djokovic responded immediately in kind, aided in part by a huge gust of wind which gave Monaco an eyeful of clay as he prepared to make a shot. 'Nole' also broke at the next opportunity to take the set 6-2.
With Djokovic well into his stride and Monaco recovering from the run of just three points from 19 available which saw him lose the second set, the deciding set was the most competitive of the three. It went with serve until the eighth game, when for the second game in a row Djokovic came from two points down to win the game.
That allowed Djokovic to serve for the match, and he converted the second of his two match points with an ace.
"I struggled with the wind today," the Serb said. "I was a bit defensive and passive in the first set, but once I was more direct I started to play much better."
By contrast Tsonga's match against Del Potro was ultimately a comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory on the Supertennis Arena.
Del Potro faded badly in the second set and had to call out the physio midway through as his knee started to affect his movement.
It was evenly matched in the opening few games though, with some fiersome hitting from both players. It was Del Potro who broke first in the fifth game, a wonderfully executed pass on the back foot taking it.
Tsonga replied immediately, then broke again as Del Potro cracked on the big points; the world number nine hitting tamely into the net to hand his opponent the set.
The second set was a breeze for Tsonga. He broke in the second and the sixth game either side of Del Potro bringing out the physio. Djokovic won’t be looking forward to playing the Frenchman in this sort of form.
In the other part of Djokovic's half of the draw, unseeded home competitor Seppi made it through to the quarter-finals after he came through a thrilling epic encounter against ninth seed Wawrinka (1)6-7 7-6(8) 7-6(6).
In a match played in front of a passionate and partisan crowd on the Supertennis Arena, the momentum veered from one man to the other throughout the contest, but all three sets required tie-breaks.
In the deciding set Wawrinka spurned six match points, including three in the breaker, before two unforced errors gave Seppi a most dramatic victory.
The world number 30's reward for winning that thriller is a last-eight clash against third seed Federer.