The 2nd seed and eight-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal had an impressive day at the office on super Thursday, defeating Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-1 in an hour and seven minutes before another rock-solid one against Nikoloz Basilashvili.
The Spaniard needed 62 minutes to beat the Georgian 6-1, 6-0 and race into the quarter-final, the 14th in Rome since that famous debut in 2005! Rafa lost eight points on serve, fending off the only break point he faced and taking 60% of the return points for five breaks from 11 opportunities, controlling the scoreboard from start to finish.
Nikoloz served at 73% but that gave him nothing against such a strong rival, spraying more than 30 unforced errors and standing no chance versus Nadal in the quickest or mid-range exchanges. Interestingly, Rafa had to save a break point in the opening game of the match, hitting a service winner and settling into a nice rhythm to break Basilashvili at love in game four.
Hold at love pushed the Spaniard 4-1 in front and he grabbed another break in the next game after a backhand mistake from Nikoloz, sealing the opening set with another easy service game for a 6-1 in 30 minutes. Dictating the points at the beginning of the second set, Rafa clinched a break in the first game and forged a 3-0 advantage when he converted the fourth break point following yet another poor groundstroke from his rival.
A forehand down the line winner sent Nadal 5-0 up, sealing the deal with a service winner in the next game to book the place in the last eight. Nadal was the most efficient player on the court on Thursday and we shall see if that will give him the advantage over the rest of the field in the next couple of days.