World number one Rafa Nadal set a new record of winning 50 consecutive sets on a single surface by beating Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 on Thursday to reach the Madrid Open quarter-finals.
The Mallorcan surpassed John McEnroe’s previous record of 49 consecutive sets on carpet which had stood since 1984 by seeing off 13th seed Schwartzman and claiming a 21st consecutive win on clay.
Nadal will face Austrian Dominic Thiem in the last eight on Friday in pursuit of a sixth Madrid Open title after beginning the claycourt season by winning an 11th Monte Carlo Masters and lifting the Barcelona Open trophy for the 11th time.
Nadal said he was unaware of the record.
“These moments I don’t go out there and think about these kind of things. I just think about my opponent, what I have to do to keep on going. That’s all,” Nadal told a news conference.
“When my career is over, these are things that are going to be there for always. They are big records. It’s difficult to be able to win 50 sets in a row. But I’ve done it. Let’s not talk about that any more and let’s continue on what we have ahead.”
World number six Juan Martin del Potro crashed out of the tournament after Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic came back from a set down to beat the Argentine 3-6 6-4 7-6(6) in the third round.
Del Potro looked in complete control as he converted two break-point opportunities to take the opening set but Lajovic, ranked 95th in the world, dug deep to stay in the contest.
A break midway through the second set was enough for Lajovic to force a decider before he wrapped up his first career victory over a top-10 opponent in the tiebreak.
“It’s for sure my best win, and definitely one of the best matches I’ve played,” the Serbian said. “I still am not believing it 100 percent, but I know I deserved to win today.”
In the quarter-finals, Lajovic will meet South Africa’s Kevin Anderson who overcame German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-6(7).
Britain’s Kyle Edmund followed up his surprise win over Novak Djokovic by defeating world number 10 David Goffin to reach the last eight of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career.
The 23-year-old broke his Belgian opponent’s serve twice in the opening set and once in the second, to seal a 6-3 6-3 victory in an hour and 12 minutes.
“I managed my game very well,” the Briton said. “My game is better the better I manage it and pick the moments not to be aggressive.
Edmund will next face Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov, who achieved a 6-4 6-4 win over compatriot Milos Raonic.
“It was definitely one of my best days on clay,” said 19-year-old Shapovalov, who is ranked 43rd in the world, 19 places below Raonic. “To be on the court against such a legend for me, and for my country, it was an honour.
“What (Raonic) does for our country, for tennis, for these past couple years, it’s incredible. To beat him, it was a huge confidence booster for me.”
American John Isner also advanced to the quarter-finals after overcoming Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in a tight match 7-6(9) 7-6(3) 7-6(4). He will play German Alexander Zverev, who beat Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-4 6-2.