Barcelona – Rafael Nadal ran out his 31st consecutive match win at his home Barcelona Open on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals at the expense of Colombian qualifier Robert Farah 6-2, 6-3.
Spain's world number two improved his near impeccable record at the event to 32-1 as he aims to lift a seventh title from his last eight appearances. His only loss here came in 2003 against the country's current Davis Cup captain Alex Corretja.
Top seed Nadal, 24-3 on the season, has not broken stride since making tennis history at the weekend by notching his eighth straight title in Monte Carlo as he beat Novak Djokovic.
He will Friday face Serb fifth seed Janko Tipsarevic, who put out Frederico Gil of Portugal 6-2, 6-2 in their third-round match.
Tipsarevic knows he will be up against the world's best on clay, but goes into the contest with a positive attitude. “Nadal is absolutely the worst opponent anyone can have on clay,” he admitted.
“He's hardly lost a match here. But you have to go for the victory, aiming to just win a few games or a set is not enough. I'm playing well, I'm not too tired. I have fuel left in my tank for this match.”
Second seed Andy Murray crushed Colombia's Santiago Giraldo in a powerful 6-1, 6-2 display to set up a showdown with Milos Raonic.
Murray, a quarter-finalist a week ago in Monte Carlo, reached the last eight again as he builds for the French Open next month.
Murray and number 25 Raonic, who put out two-time semi-finalist Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-3, will finally clash in a match which should have been played in March at Miami had the Canadian not suffered an injury and been forced to withdraw to give Murray the walkover third-round win.
The Scot has come alive this week as he produced his best career showing in Barcelona after previously winning only one match here at the Real Club de Tenis.
Murray's win was his 25th of the season against five defeats; Giraldo lost his 15th match without a win against top 10 players.
“It was good, I started the match well” said Murray. “He had played a lot of clay tennis already so I was expecting some long rallies.
“But I got ahead and put pressure on him from the start. He started going for more and making some errors.
“I've never played Raonic but he has a huge serve. I have to play a solid match. He can have some ups and down, so if he makes errors and give me chances I have to be ready to take them.”
Raonic, the 11th seed who has played less than 20 career ATP clay matches, produced an equally one-way third-round win against Spanish sixth seed Nicolas Almagro as he beat the two-time semi-finalist 6-3, 6-3 in just 67 minutes.
The winner fired seven aces while breaking three times. “This was probably my best win on clay,” said Raonic. “There's been a big change for me this week. I'm very proud of my play today, and I'm progressing well.”
Spanish seventh seed Feliciano Lopez beat Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-1 while Japan's Kei Nishikori continued his own progress, with the eighth seed defeating Spaniard Albert Ramos 7-6 (7/2), 6-3. – Sapa-AFP