Nadal, Nishikori power into Barcelona quarters

Top seeds Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori are safely through to the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open after straight sets victories.

Nadal shrugged off a rain delay to dispatch countryman Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-2 in just 67 minutes, as he continued to look very much at home on his favoured clay surface.

Last week’s Monte Carlo champion broke serve five times during a dominant display – his fourth successive victory over the 35-year-old Montanes.

“I started off very well and felt really good. I’m happy about the victory and very happy about the way I played today,” Nadal said on court. “I had a great forehand today and the conditions were much better than yesterday.”

Nadal is hunting down a ninth title in Barcelona this week, after winning the championship from 2005-09 and 2011-13.

He moves on to face Fabio Fognini for a place in the semi-finals, the man who knocked him out here last year. The Italian advanced after beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-2.

“Tomorrow will be a tough match against Fognini, he beat me three times last year and it was up and down against him,” said Nadal.

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Nishikori, meanwhile, was given a somewhat sterner test by Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

After taking the first set courtesy of a single break, the Japanese star found himself in a tighter battle in the second.

Chardy twice broke back after Nishikori had carved out an advantage, including when he was serving for the match at 5-4.

But Nishikori was able to respond with a break of his own on each occasion, eventually sealing the 6-3, 7-5 victory after an hour and 24 minutes.

The two-time defending champion next faces Alexandr Dolgopolov, who beat qualifier Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-5.

Others to advance on the day included Malek Jaziri, Benoit Paire and Andrey Kuznetsov.

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