Rafael Nadal extended his Open Era record to 40 for consecutive sets won on clay on Thursday when he eased past Spanish compatriot Guillermo Garcia Lopez 6-1 6-3 and into the Barcelona quarter-finals.
World number one Nadal, chasing an 11th title at the tournament, a week after claiming the Monte Carlo Masters for an 11th time, will next face Slovakia’s Martin Klizan.
Qualifier Klizan, ranked at 140, knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round and reached the last eight on Thursday with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
It was Nadal’s 397th match win on clay in a career which includes 76 titles on all surfaces.
He set up the foundation for victory by winning nine straight games from 1-1 in the first set to 4-0 in the second set against Garcia-Lopez, the 34-year-old world number 69.
However, Nadal shrugged off his 40-set landmark.
“This record doesn’t matter but if I keep winning sets it will mean that I keep winning matches. I don’t think I can win all the sets from here to Roland Garros,” said 31-year-old Nadal, who will seek to win an 11th French Open in Paris at the conclusion of the clay-court season in June.
He also warned of the dangers posed by Klizan, a fellow left-hander who defeated him in Beijing in 2014.
“He has won three matches in the tournament so far, he has the ability to play at a very high level and can be a dangerous player.”
Second seed Grigor Dimitrov had a far tougher afternoon, needing to save two match points to beat Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 7-5 3-6 7-6(8) in a match which lasted 10 minutes short of three hours.
Dimitrov will next play fifth seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, who saved three match points to defeat French 11th seed Adrian Mannarino 6-2 4-6 7-6(6) in two hours and seven minutes.
Carreno Busta wrapped up victory on his fifth match point.
Third seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria, the runner-up to Nadal in Barcelona last year, reached the last eight with a 7-6(5) 6-2 victory over Slovakian lucky loser Jozef Kovalik.
Thiem will next face Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece who saw off Spanish 10th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4 7-5.
Belgian fourth seed David Goffin reached the last eight for the first time with a 2-6 7-6(2) 6-0 victory over Karen Khachanov, avenging his defeat at the hands of the Russian at the same stage 12 months ago.
On Friday, Goffin will tackle Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Spanish countryman and recent Marrakech clay-court champion Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-1.