MADRID: Rafael Nadal broke John McEnroe’s 34-year record on Thursday by winning his 50th consecutive set on clay at the Madrid Open.
The world number one cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Diego Schwartzman.
Nadal’s straight-sets victory means he establishes a new Open era best for consecutive sets won on a single surface, passing McEnroe’s 49 on carpet in 1984.
McEnroe also won the Madrid Open Indoor title that year and Nadal may be about to follow suit in the Spanish capital, with Austrian Dominic Thiem up next in the quarter-finals on Friday.
While Nadal won, Juan Martin del Potro, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep all crashed out.
Argentinian del Potrolast was leading 4-0 in a third-set tie-break but still lost 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) to Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic.
Lajovic will now face South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who overcame Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Sharapova also lost in three sets to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands while Halep, the champion in 2016 and 2017, was blown away by Karolina Pliskova.
It means Pliskova, the sixth seed, is the highest-ranked player left in the women’s draw after Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Jelena Ostapenko all lost earlier in the week.
Pliskova’s 6-4, 6-3 win sets up a showdown with either two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or the talented Russian Daria Kasatkina for a place in the final on Saturday.