Monte Carlo: Murray crashes out; Nadal ruthless against Sascha

Andy Murray suffered a shock third-round loss to Spain's 15th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in more than two and a half hours at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in action against Andy Murray at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday.   -  Reuters

Andy Murray surrendered a 4-0 lead in the decisive third set on his way to defeat at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday as the world number one's 2017 season hit another setback.

Murray suffered a shock third-round loss to Spain's 15th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in more than two and a half hours.

Ramos-Vinolas toppled the Scottish top seed on his second match point to progress to the quarterfinals on the Monaco clay for the first time at the French Open warm-up event.

Rafael Nadal gatecrashed Alexander Zverev's 20th birthday party on Thursday with a brutal 6-1, 6-1 Monte Carlo Masters demolition.

Defending champion Nadal, chasing a 10th title at the tournament, will face either Argentina's Diego Schwartzman or German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff for a place in the semifinals.

Nadal served out the opener to love and broke at the first time in the second when Zverev went long with a stooped backhand at the end of a long rally.

The frustration boiled over for Zverev when he was broken again in a lengthy game three and the German was given a court violation warning for smashing his racquet in anger.

Zverev stopped a nine-game rot by holding to make it 4-1, but it proved a brief reprieve as Nadal comfortably completed his progression to the last eight by breaking for the third time in the set.

Murray, a three-time Monte Carlo semifinalist, raced away with the first set, before Ramos-Vinolas found his feet to level the score, then neutralised a 4-0 Murray lead in the third set.

Ramos-Vinolas then edged ahead, with Murray saving a match point in the final game but the reigning Wimbledon and Olympic champion missed on a drop shot to hand a shock win to his opponent.

Murray had returned from a month out with an elbow injury to launch his clay court season with a gruelling 7-5, 7-5 defeat of Gilles Muller in Wednesday's second round tie.

The 29-year-old was making his first ATP appearance since a second-round loss to Vasek Pospisil at Indian Wells on March 12. His quest for a first Monte Carlo title goes on, one of only two Masters 1000 events he has never won.

Victory for Vinolas-Ramos marked the first time the 29-year-old from Barcelona, who reached last year's French Open quarterfinals, had got the better of a world number one.

Djokovic struggles through

Novak Djokovic battled into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win over Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.

The world number two will face Belgium's David Goffin for a place in the semi-finals.