Rafael Nadal put on a serving clinic on Thursday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, not facing a break point en route to a convincing 6-3, 6-4 victory over Kevin Anderson to reach the quarter-finals.
“It wasn’t a day where I took a lot of free points because the court was very heavy. But I was serving well, at a good speed and changing directions well,” said Nadal. “I had the chance to hit my forehand after my serve and take control of the rallies, so I’m very happy with how I played.”
Competing on Pista Rafa Nadal, the third seed dropped just nine points on serve and continued to apply pressure in his return games by accumulating 10 break points. A single break in each set was all the third seed needed to advance in one hour and 33 minutes. Nadal improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Anderson to 4-0.
After becoming the first man in the Open Era to win the singles title at an event on 10 occasions with his victory last week at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Nadal could replicate that feat just seven days later in Barcelona. His win over Anderson marked his 50th victory in the Spanish city.
Next up for Nadal is the winner is qualifier Hyeon Chung, who prevailed in an all-#NextGenATP match against eighth seed Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-4. Chung went on a six-game run beginning at 1-1 in the opening set and controlled the majority of the baseline rallies. Although he missed the chance to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set, he responded by breaking Zverev in the next game to prevail in one hour and 21 minutes.
“This is my first quarter-final at the 500 level, so I’m very excited. I tried to be focused on every single point and stay calm. That was the key,” said Chung. “When I started playing tennis, I wanted to play Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, so I’m very excited about tomorrow.”
The 20-year-old Korean, who has yet to drop a set this week, is through to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since Houston in April 2016. Since returning to competition this past September after sitting out four months with an abdominal injury, Chung has dominated the ATP Challenger Tour by winning three titles in Kaohsiung, Kobe and Maui.
Lopez Sets New Record In Barcelona
Lucky loser Yuichi Sugita continued his dream run by advancing to the last eight with a 6-3, 6-3 win over seventh seed Pablo Carreno Busta. Having already earned the biggest victory of his career on Tuesday by defeating World No. 23 Richard Gasquet in the opening round, Sugita scored a new career-best result by breaking the Spaniard three times to take the match in 77 minutes.
“It was my best win. It’s unbelievable,” said Sugita. “This was very important for my life, so I’m really glad about it.”
The 28-year-old Japanese player only entered the main draw when Kei Nishikori withdrew due to a right wrist injury. Sugita becomes the first lucky loser to reach an ATP World Tour quarter-final since Lucas Pouille reached the final four at last year’s ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome.
This is Sugita’s first ATP World Tour quarter-final in more than five years, with his maiden run to the last eight coming in Chennai in January 2012. He has excelled this year on the ATP Challenger Tour, capturing titles in Yokohama, Japan, and Shenzhen, China.
Sugita will look to continue his inspired form when he plays fourth seed Dominic Thiem, a 7-6(5), 6-2 winner over Daniel Evans. Both players traded holds throughout the first set, but the fourth seed went on a six-point run in the tie-break before converting on his fourth set point. Thiem had a much easier time in the second set, breaking Evans twice to wrap up the win.
The Austrian has already enjoyed success on clay this year by winning the Rio Open presented by Claro in February (d. Carreno Busta).