Rafael Nadal was prepared for pain. Roger Federer hoped to avoid pain.
They got what they wished for and reached the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.
Eight-time champion Nadal saved 15 of 17 break points, scampering all over the clay to retrieve big forehands from Dominic Thiem and beat the Austrian 7-5, 6-3.
Thiem beat Nadal in the semifinals in Buenos Aires en route to the title, the first of two on clay in February. Thiem has the second-most wins on the tour this year, after Novak Djokovic. He made Nadal run and run.
"I never gave up in all these tough moments," Nadal said. "You need matches like this. You need to suffer on...