World No.1 Rafael Nadal has set a new record of winning 50 consecutive sets on a single surface by beating Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 to reach the Madrid Open quarter-finals.
The Spaniard surpassed John McEnroe’s previous record of 49 consecutive sets on carpet, which had stood since 1984.
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.
“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.”
Elsewhere, world no.6 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 in the third round.
“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 per cent, 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.
Kyle Edmund followed up his surprise win over Novak Djokovic by defeating world no.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.
American John Isner also advanced to the quarter-finals after overcoming Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in a tight match, 7-6 7-6 7-6.
He will play German Alexander Zverev, who beat Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-4 6-2.
In the women’s, Maria Sharapova lost in three sets to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands while Simona Halep, the champion in 2016 and 2017, was blown away by Karolina Pliskova.
It means Pliskova, the sixth seed, is the highest-ranked player left in the women’s draw after Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Jelena Ostapenko all lost earlier in the week.
Pliskova’s 6-4, 6-3 win sets up a showdown with either two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or the talented Russian Daria Kasatkina for a place in the final on Saturday.
“Even in the warm-up I felt so good today,” Pliskova said.
“I think I played one of my best matches this year for sure, and for sure on clay in my life.”
Halep said: “Today she didn’t miss. I didn’t play badly in my opinion.
“I missed in some important moments, that’s why it went her way but I’m not very disappointed about this match. She deserved to win.”
Sharapova is set to climb inside the top 40 next week and the 31-year-old will be encouraged by her week’s work, where she showed signs she is finding her rhythm.
The Russian arrived on the back of four consecutive defeats but three victories and a narrow 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 loss to Bertens suggests she could be a threat at the French Open later this month.
“It was great to get those wins against those players,” said Sharapova, the 2014 champion in Madrid.