Defending champ Monfils reaches quarters in France

MONTPELLIER, France (AP) -- Defending champion Gael Monfils finished off Michael Russell of the U.S. with his 17th ace Thursday, winning 6-3, 6-3 to reach the Open Sud de France quarterfinals.

Also advancing to the quarters were top-seeded Tomas Berdych, Jarkko Nieminen and Nicolas Mahut.

Nieminen is enjoying a good run, having won the Sydney International last month. Mathieu returned to the ATP Tour this week after missing the 2011 season because of a knee injury. Berdych lost a grueling quarterfinal to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.

Russell double-faulted to drop serve at 3-3 and lost the opening set on a forehand error. The third-seeded Monfils capitalized on a backhand error from Russell to break for a 3-1 lead in the second set. Monfils next plays eighth-seeded Nieminen, who dismissed French wild card Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6 (4), 6-1.

Berdych cruised past French qualifier Florent Serra 6-0, 6-2 in another second-round match. Berdych broke Serra five times to set up a match against Mahut, who beat sixth-seeded Florian Mayer 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Mahut jumped to 4-1 in the tiebreaker and took the first set when Mayer double-faulted. He broke the German twice in the final set to clinch victory.

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