Rafael Nadal made it safely through to the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday afternoon with a comfortable two-set victory over Andreas Seppi.
The Spaniard needed just 74 minutes to defeat his Italian opponent and the win marked a milestone of 300 victories for Nadal on clay, making him the 11th player in the Open era to do so.
All five of the Mallorcan’s break point chances were converted and he won an impressive 82% of points on his first serve.
Seppi, who is ranked 35 in the world, showed some resistance in the second set when breaking back at 4-2 down, but he could not prevent Nadal from winning the next two games to seal a comfortable win.
That took the record between the two players to 5-1 in Nadal’s favour, with his only loss to Seppi coming in Rotterdam in 2008.
The world number one’s achievement of reaching 300 wins on clay is another in a long list of successes he has achieved on what has always been seen as his favourite surface.
His first win on clay came in 2002 against Ramon Delgado in Mallorca and he has not looked back since.
The 27-year-old is affectionately known as the “King of Clay” and his unprecedented record on the surface has justified that, with 43 singles titles, including eight French Open crowns, making him a formidable force on the red dirt.
Nadal has looked solid and controlled in his opening two matches and he dropped only five games in his second-round match against Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili on Wednesday on the way to a 6-4, 6-1 victory.
But he feels his form still has room for improvement.
He said after the match: “I think today I played a little bit better than yesterday. For a long time I was playing at a good level, I think, changing directions very well and playing with the right intensity. At 4-1 in the second set I stopped a little bit with my legs. Seppi is a player that takes the ball early. If you are not playing from inside, you are in big trouble.
“I lost a little intensity, made a few mistakes. I was lucky to have the break back again.”
He will next face his compatriot and sixth seed David Ferrer - who overcame Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2 - for a place in the semi-finals in what will be a repeat of last year’s French Open final.
Should he win that match, Nadal will then be just two matches away from winning the tournament in Monte Carlo for the ninth time. He set an ATP record of eight consecutive tournament wins at one event in Monaco between 2005 and 2012.
That run came to an end with defeat to Serbian Novak Djokovic in the final in 2013, and he is the biggest threat to Nadal taking the crown back this year.
Nadal also holds the record for the number of Masters 1000 Series won in the Open era, with his current tally standing at 26.
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