Reuters: Third seed Rafael Nadal remained on course for a 10th Barcelona Open title after reaching the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Kevin Anderson on Thursday.
World number one Andy Murray also advanced as he stepped up his recovery from an elbow injury by breezing past Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-4.
It was Nadal’s 50th victory at the tournament and the Mallorcan never looked in danger against world number 66 Anderson, forcing 10 break points in the match.
Nadal, who broke the big-serving South African twice, said the rain throughout the morning in Catalonia meant the newly-renamed Rafa Nadal Court was moving slower than usual.
He will be hoping for better weather when he takes on South Korean qualifier Hyeon Chung in the last eight on Friday.
“They weren’t the best conditions for me. I much prefer it when the ball is doing more,” Nadal said.
“It wasn’t easy. He’s a really tall player who hits the ball well in comfortable positions. I tried to make him take the ball on the move in order to make him less comfy.”
Top seed Murray’s victory set up a meeting with Albert Ramos-Vinolas, the Spaniard who knocked him out of the Monte Carlo Masters last week, on Friday.
The 29-year-old is the last Briton in the draw after the country’s number two Dan Evans lost 7-6(5) 6-2 to Austria’s Dominic Thiem, who faces Yuichi Sugita for a semi-final place.
Sharapova eases past Makarova into Stuttgart quarters
Reuters: Former world number one Maria Sharapova eased past fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1 on Thursday to reach the Stuttgart Grand Prix quarter-finals and continue her winning comeback from a 15-month doping ban.
The 30-year-old Russian, who has won five Grand Slams and is among the highest-paid athletes in the world, returned to action on Wednesday with a straight sets win over Roberta Vinci following her suspension for the use of banned substance meldonium.
Sharapova, who had tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open, picked up where she had left off against Vinci, powering through her first two service games without dropping a point but struggling somewhat with her return consistency.
Makarova also cleverly mixed up the height and depth of her shots during rallies on the very quick Stuttgart clay with Sharapova still lacking match practice.
Makarova wasted her only break opportunity at 5-5 and Sharapova never looked back. She earned her first break points a game later, powering a crosscourt forehand winner to grab the first set. She broke Makarova twice in the second set to race 5-1 ahead and served out the match with an ace to set up a quarter-final clash against Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit.