In a Manolo Santana Stadium that was packed to the rafters for the occasion, Rafael Nadal maintained his pace of play on Thursday to progress to the quarter-finals at the Mutua Madrid Open. If the day was a difficult one for some of the favourites, Nadal made sure he was the exception.
The number 1 in the ATP ranking picked apart the game of Argentine player Diego Schwartzman, who was unable to keep up with the first seed on the Madrid clay. In an aggressive match, Nadal dug in to maintain his record on clay in 2018 (14-0).
“It seems now I’m in a positive momentum. The tournaments I’ve been able to play, I’ve been able to play deep. In general I’m fine. I’m happy for those things are working out”, he said. Tomorrow I have a very tough match. I think it’s a key match in this tournament against a very tough player. It’s another opportunity to play against one of the best players of the world, especially here in this these conditions. Hopefully I’ll be prepared”.
Nadal’s victory means he has increased his lead in the head to head with the South American, which now stands at 5-0. After the intense four-set clash in the last sixteen of the Australian Open this season, the Spaniard imposed himself on the world number 16 once again.
A tournament that includes the best players on tour will be no less demanding in the next round. The quarter-finals will see Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem square off in a repeat of the 2017 Caja Mágica final, a clash that is fast becoming a classic on the slowest surface on tour.
In addition, victory meant that the Spaniard broke another historic record in his stunning career. Having won his 50th consecutive set on clay, Nadal becomes the player with the longest run in history on one surface, beating the 49 set by John McEnroe on carpet in 1984.
“When my career is over, these are things that are going to be there for always. They are big records. It’s difficult to be able to win 50 sets in a row. But I’ve done it. Well, it’s done. It’s over. Let’s not talk about that any more and let’s continue on what we have ahead which is what I am concerned about”, Rafa said.
In an edition that promises to be unforgettable on the Caja Mágica clay, the most successful player in the history of the tournament continues to grow his legend.