The King of Clay Rafael Nadal had yet another hassle-free day at the 2017 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell as he cruised into the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over the 66th ranked Kevin Anderson of South Africa on Thursday. It brought up the nine-time champion’s 50th win at this tournament where the centre court has now been renamed Pista Rafa Nadal in his honour.
The Spaniard has come to this ATP 500 event on the back of winning a record 10th title at the Monte Carlo Masters last week and is targeting another historic ‘La Decima’ at the Catalan capital now.
The third-seeded Nadal had 73% of his first serves in and won 59% (72/123) of the total points. He did not even face a single break point. The only facet of his game which was not squeaky clean was his break point conversion rate where he had only 20% (2/10) success.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion will next face the 94th ranked Korean qualifier Hyeon Chung, who sent the eighth-seeded Alexander Zverev packing with a 6-1, 6-4 win. The German took a wildcard into this tournament to get a chance to meet Nadal to whom he surrendered meekly at Monaco last week.
Murray wins his first match at Barcelona
Meanwhile, top seed and World No. 1 Andy Murray finally played his first match at Barcelona this year when he beat the 16th seeded Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 6-4. The only time the Scot was broken in the match was when he served for the win at 5-3 in the second set.
The 2016 French Open runner-up had advanced to the pre-quarter-finals without hitting a single ball as Bernard Tomic gave him a walkover in the second round.
This was Murray’s first match at the Catalan capital in five years.
Goffin, Carreno Busta exit
There were quite a few upsets in the third round as fifth seed David Goffin and seventh seed Pablo Carreno Busta both departed. The two failed to back up the promising form they showed at Monaco.
Monte Carlo Masters semi-finalist Goffin was edged by rising star Karen Khachanov, who edged the Belgian, 6(7)-7, 3-6, 4-6 in a 2 hours 34-minute contest. The 20-year-old Russian, touted as a future star, frequently lives and trains in Barcelona.
Lucky loser Yuichi Sugita continues to make the most of his opportunity as he upset yet another seed with Pablo Carreno Busta being his victim this time. Sugita won the third round match, 6-3, 6-3.
The Japanese got a chance to be in the main draw when his compatriot Kei Nishikori withdrew due to a wrist injury. He has already accounted for former champion Tommy Robredo in the first round and ninth seed Richard Gasquet in the second.
Fourth seed Dominic Thiem had no such problems as he effortlessly won his third round, 7-6(5), 6-2 over Daniel Evans of Great Britain.Published 28 Apr 2017, 00:30 IST