Barcelona, Spain – Reigning champion Rafael Nadal, British star Andy Murray and three-time runner-up David Ferrer were a trio of third-round winners at the $2.135 million Barcelona Open.
The top-seeded former world No. 1 Nadal blew past Colombian qualifier Robert Farah 6-2, 6-3 in just under an hour-and-a-half on the red clay at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona.
Nadal, who upset current No. 1 Novak Djokovic in last week's final at the Monte Carlo Masters to capture a record 20th Masters championship, has won six of the last seven Barcelona titles and topped Ferrer in last year's all-Spanish finale. He also bested Ferrer in back-to-back finals here in 2008 and 2009.
Up next for the French Open champion Nadal will be quality fifth-seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic, who drilled Portuguese Frederico Gil 6-2, 6-2 on Day 4.
"It may sound stupid but against players like him you have to go for victory, if you look for a fight you've already lost," Tipsarevic said of Nadal. "Rafa is playing like he always does on clay, the best, but I'll go out there looking to win and see what happens."
Meanwhile, a second-seeded Murray, like Nadal, also leveled a Colombian player on Thursday, as the Scott fired nines aces in erasing Santiago Giraldo 6-1, 6-2 in 74 minutes, and a third-seeded Ferrer held his serve throughout and dismantled fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-0, 6-2 in 80 minutes.
Ferrer, who has been the Barcelona runner-up three of the last four years, will encounter another compatriot, Feliciano Lopez, in the round of eight.
Murray's quarterfinal opponent on Friday will be 11th-seeded rising Canadian Milos Raonic, who surprised sixth-seeded Spanish clay-court specialist Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-3.
In other third-round play, a seventh-seeded Lopez drubbed Finnish veteran and fellow lefthander Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-1 and eighth-seeded Japanese mover Kei Nishikori handled 17th-seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos 7-6 (7-2), 6-3. Ramos was a clay-court runner-up in Casablanca two weeks ago.
Nishikori's quarterfinal opponent will be ninth-seeded Spanish southpaw and 2010 Barcelona champ Fernando Verdasco, who closed out Thursday's play with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 13th-seeded South African Kevin Anderson.
This week's big winner will collect $398,000.