The Associated PressMADRID (AP) — Rafael Nadal broke John McEnroe’s record of 49 straight sets won on the same surface by beating Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the Madrid Open on Thursday.
Nadal extended his winning streak to 50 consecutive sets on clay, eclipsing the mark McEnroe established on carpet in 1984.
“When my career is over, these are things that are going to be there for always. It’s difficult to be able to win 50 sets in a row,” Nadal said. “Well, it’s done. It’s over. Let’s not talk about that any more and let’s continue on what we have ahead which is what I am concerned about.”
The world No. 1’s focus is trained on his next match against Dominic Thiem, a rematch of last year’s final.
Thiem, who outlasted Borna Coric 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, is the last player to beat Nadal on clay at Rome last year.
“On this surface, [Thiem] is one of the most dangerous players you can face,” Nadal said. “Tomorrow is a key match in the tournament.”
While Nadal marched on, the top women’s players continued to struggle in the Spanish capital after top-ranked Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova both lost in the quarterfinals.
Also on the men’s side, second-seeded Alexander Zverev brushed aside Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-2 and will meet John Isner after he edged Pablo Cuevas in a hard-fought match that needed tiebreakers to decide all three sets.
Isner prevailed 6-7 (9-11), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) in 2 hours 21 minutes.
The top-ranked Nadal, who improved to 18-1 overall on the season, has won 38 of his last 39 matches on his favored clay.
Serena to play in San Jose
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Serena Williams has committed to return to the Bay Area this summer and play in the former Stanford WTA stop that will move to San Jose State University for the first time.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, announced her plans Thursday to open the summer hard court season in San Jose — a marquee addition for the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic that runs from July 30 to Aug. 5.