World number 1 and a five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal has scored his 18th win in 19 matches this season, overpowering Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes for the place in the quarter-final where he would face Dominic Thiem on Friday. This was Nadal's 14th win in a row on clay this season and he has broken another huge Open era record, winning his 50th consecutive set on clay to pass John McEnroe who claimed 49 on the carpet back in 1984, in one of the greatest Open era seasons.
The Spaniard lost his serve once but he had to work hard in order to dismiss the Argentinian who gave his best to stay in touch with a great rival as long as possible and fight for every point from start to finish. Diego served at 55% and Rafa broke him three times from seven chances, enough to seal the deal in straight sets and stay on a title course.
It wasn't the best possible match from Rafa (he played much better yesterday against Monfils) ad he made too many forehand mistakes, finishing the match on 14 winners and 21 unforced errors. Schwartzman had 16 winners but he paid the prize of his aggressiveness with 35 errors, that cost him the match.
Diego matched Nadal's numbers in the longest rallies but Rafa had the upper hand in the shortest and the mid-range rallies to win 13 points more than his rival. Schwartzman had to play against the break points in the very first game of the match, fending off the first with a service winner and the second when Nadal netted a forehand to avoid an early setback.
Rafa had to work hard in the third game as well, saving a break point with a good serve and he finally broke Diego in game six when the Argentinian netted a routine backhand. After that break point he faced in the third game Nadal was untouchable on serve and he dropped just three points behind his initial shot by the end of the set to clinch it 6-3 with a service winner in that ninth game.
Schwartzman was pretty much powerless on the return in the opening three games of the second set (Nadal has won 27 out of 33 points since that break point that Diego earned) and Rafa broke him in the fifth game after a forehand down the line winner, moving closer to the finish line and to another record.
As we already said, the Spaniard lost only a few points on serve in the last six service games but instead of marching towards the finish line he started to make more errors, losing serve in game eight on Diego's third break point to worry his fans a little bit.
Schwartzman squandered two game points in game nine that could send him 5-4 in front and Rafa broke him after a costly double fault that allowed the Spaniard to serve for the triumph. This time there were no mistakes from Nadal and he closed the match with a comfortable hold that pushed him inside the last eight, keeping hopes of winning the sixth title in Madrid alive.
Third round results: