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Rafael Nadal into quarterfinals of Barcelona Open
Defending champion beats Ivan Dodig 6-3 6-3
Maria Sharapova also into last eight in Stuttgart
Title holder beats Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets
Defending champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova moved into quarterfinals of their respective tournaments in Barcelona and Stuttgart Thursday as the build-up to next month’s French Open gathers pace.
Nadal is coming off a shock loss at the Monte Carlo Masters – losing there for only the third time in 11 years – but has showed little sign of an adverse reaction in his two matches to date on home clay.
The world number one duly beat Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-3 6-3 to earn a last eight clash against fellow Nicolas Almagro.
Fellow Spaniard Almagro lost to Nadal in last year’s final but earned his passage with a 6-3 6-3 success over Fernando Verdasco in another domestic clash.
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Nadal has won the title eight years out of nine in Barcelona and his passage to a ninth title has been eased by the shock exit of David Ferrer Wednesday to Teymeraz Gabashvili.
It was second seed Ferrer who scored a rare win over his compatriot in Monte Carlo but he was unable to repeat this form against Gabashvili, who then secured his place in the last eight with a straight sets win over Inigo Cervantes.
In other third round matches, 12th seed Marin Cilic of Croatia beat Spanish fifth seed Tommy Robredo 7-5 6-7 7-6, while Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo saw off Dominic Thiem of Austria in another three-setter.
Read: Ferrer stuns Nadal in Monte Carlo
Sharapova, who is returning to her best after injury, is the two-time defending champion on the red clay of Stuttgart and showed evidence of that class with a 6-4 6-3 over fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in one hour 32 minutes.
Sharapova, who needs to reach the last four in the WTA Premier Level event to retain her top 10 status, must next play top seed Agnieszka Radwanska, a tough task as she acknowledged.
“Well, Agnieszka is number three in the world and obviously someone who’s been playing extremely well to be in that position,” Sharapova told the official WTA website.
Read: Sharapova loses to Serena in Miami semi
“And I love these kinds of challenges. We’ve played each other many times, and there are certainly no secrets about each other’s games,” she added.
Radwanska eased into the last eight with a 6-3 6-2 win over Italian Roberta Vinci.
Former world number one Jelena Jankovic also beat Italian opposition in Flavia Pennetta, 3-6 6-2 6-3, while Serbian ninth seed Ana Ivanovic overcame Germany’s Julia Goerges 1-6 6-2 6-3.