Andy Murray sets up Rafael Nadal semi in Monte Carlo
Andy Murray will face six-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters after continuing his return to form with a comprehensive win over Portuguese qualifier Frederico Gil.
The British number one powered to his third win of the week as he saw off Gil, the world number 82, 6-2 6-1 in only 72 minutes.
Murray had come into the tournament desperately searching for form after three first-round defeats in succession, and having split with coaching consultant Alex Corretja, but the switch to clay appears to have worked wonders.
Confident from the outset despite the windy conditions, Murray was far too strong for Gil and had him constantly on the defensive with his greater variety and weight of shot.
The Scot broke serve in game three and then played the first drop shot of the day, having got on the wrong side of the home crowd 24 hours earlier for deploying the same tactic against an injured Gilles Simon.
There was nothing but applause this time, however, such was the quality of the stroke, and Murray gave further evidence that his forehand is really finding its range on the clay as he broke again on his way to taking the first set.
Gil, playing arguably the biggest match of his career, for once had Murray running all over the court as he earned two break points at the start of the second, but after chasing down a poor drop shot he caught the tape with a seemingly easy forehand put-away and the chance was gone.
Deflated, Gil made four errors in a row to hand over another break in game three and Murray then accelerated towards the finishing line, showing off his full repertoire, with one flipped forehand almost parallel to the net a particular highlight.
"It was good, I played very well today in tricky conditions," Murray said afterwards. "I hit the ball very well for the majority of the match."
The stats suggest that, even as the world number four, Murray has little chance against the undisputed master on clay, but he is relishing Saturday's semi-final against Nadal.
"He is incredibly difficult to beat on clay but you need to believe you can win," added the Scot.
"I plan on winning the match and you need to go in with that attitude. I've always enjoyed playing Rafa - it's going to be a great test."