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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal did not face break point dismissing Kevin Anderson, 6-3, 6-4, to earn his 50th career Barcelona win.

Photo credit: Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell

Though he takes no pleasure from pain, Rafael Nadal says suffering is a key component to clay-court success.

Lately, Nadal has been celebrating while handing hurt to opponents.

Watch: Sharapova Comeback, Becker Rates Roger

The reigning champion continued his career-long dominance of Kevin Anderson, 6-3, 6-4, to register his 50th career Barcelona victory. Nadal served 73 percent, won 31 of 36 first-serve points and did not face a break point on serve

Nadal, who claimed his 10th Monte-Carlo crown and record-breaking 50th career clay-court championship on Sunday, has now scored at least 50 wins at five tournaments: Roland Garros (72), Monte Carlo (63), Australian Open (51), Indian Wells (50) and Barcelona (50).

The nine-time champion will play qualifier Hyeon Chung for a semifinal spot.

The 94th-ranked Korean crushed eighth-seeded Alexander Zverev, 6-4, 6-1, in 81 minutes. Zverev surrendered serve five times, including double faulting on match point and ending the encounter smashing his racquet in frustration.

Carrying a 3-0 career record over the 30-year-old South African on court today, Nadal immediately set out to stretch Anderson and make the big man move and counter from awkward positions on court.

A soggy start to a rainy day delayed the start of the match and created slower conditions suited to Nadal's heavy topspin. Nadal is a smoother mover and used his spins to stretch the width of the court and make Anderson defend wide angles. 

When play began, Nadal burst out of the box quickly driving the ball into the corners and often deploying the drop shot effectively. 

The reigning champion played deep crosscourt angles to test the slower South African’s ability to withstand running rallies. Nadal reeled off four of the first five games.

Serving for the set, Nadal stretched his 6-foot-8 opponent then carved out a forehand drop shot winner for triple set point.

Sliding his serve out wide to displace Anderson, Nadal moved in and crunched a forehand winner into the open court closing the 38-minute opening set in which he won 16 of 18 first-serve points.

A seven-deuce battle marked the opening game of the second set. Anderson fended off four break points working through a demanding hold for 1-0.

The world No. 66 tried shortening points hitting the short slice to lure Nadal forward at times and trying to attack net himself on other points.

Attacking net, Anderson knifed a backhand volley off the top of the tape that sat up. Swooping in, Nadal spun a forehand pass down the line breaking for 2-1.

Varying the spin and speed on his first serve, Nadal hit the slider out wider backing up the break at 15.

The nine-time champion served out his 50th Barcelona victory at love, raising his record at the event to 50-3 and his 2017 clay-court record to 7-0.

Lucky loser Yuichi Sugita continued his inspired run through the draw. The world No. 91 surprised seventh-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta, 6-3, 6-3, in 77 minutes.

It was Sugita's fifth win of the week and sends him into a quarterfinal clash with fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem, who defeated Dan Evans, 7-6 (5), 6-2. Thiem raised his 2017 clay-court record to 7-1 reaching his seventh quarterfinal of the season.


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