ROME, May 18 (Agencies): Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer reached the Rome Masters quarter-finals on Thursday, but fourth seed Andy Murray suffered another setback in his French Open plans when he crashed out to Richard Gasquet.
Murray, who lost 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-2 to the Frenchman, revealed that he has been carrying a back problem since December but declined to go into details on the symptoms or its treatment. However, he did admit to facing a race against time with the French Open starting in Paris a week on Sunday.
�I�ve felt it for some months, but I haven�t had a chance to take a pause. I�ve tried not to make it any worse, but the muscles get tired from compensating,� said Murray, who skipped last week�s Madrid Masters because of the problem.
�I�ve got a lot of big events coming and there�s not that much time to rest any niggles. Hopefully when the French comes, the goal is to be in peak condition.�
Top seed Djokovic, the defending champion, staged a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 comeback win over Argentine Juan Monaco while second seeded Nadal was ruthless with fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers, winning 6-1, 6-1.
Djokovic will tackle Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who saw off Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4, 6-1, for a place in the last four.
�Conditions were very difficult for us. I finally settled into the match,� said Nadal, who will next face Tomas Berdych after last week�s Madrid finalist beat Spain�s Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
Federer, the winner of the Madrid Masters, defeated fellow veteran and former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 with a dozen aces and four breaks of serve.
The Spaniard took the clash to a third set with a late break before the third-seeded Swiss set-up a last-eight match with Italy�s Andreas Seppi who saved six match points in a 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (8/6) win over Stanislas Wawrinka.
Federer improved to 47-3 since last year�s US Open semi-finals, winning seven of his past 10 tournaments and returning to number two in the world.
Spanish sixth seed David Ferrer knocked out French 11th seed Gilles Simon 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) and will tackle Gasquet.
With gusts of wind making life a challenge in all matches, Djokovic had to smash a racquet to bits to get himself motivated after losing the opening set to Monaco.
The outburst came after the Argentine had finally converted a fifth set point in the blustery conditions.
The Serb went down a break in the second set, but got it back and then broke again to level the match at a set apiece.
It took a break for 5-3 in the final set to put Djokovic into position to close out victory on his second match point.