MADRID: Japanese fourth seed Kei Nishikori eased into the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open yesterday with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Kazakstan’s Andrey Golubev.
Nishikori is making his first appearance of the season on clay in the Catalan capital and after struggling past Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets on Tuesday, he seemed more at ease as he equalled his best-ever run in Barcelona by reaching the last eight.
The world number 17 is likely to face a tougher task today, though, when he faces either Marin Cilic or Tommy Robredo for a place in the semi-finals.
Ninth seed Ernests Gulbis also secured his place in he quarters with a straight sets 7-5, 6-1 win over Albert Montanes.
The Latvian will face Russia’s Teimuraz Gabashvili in the last eight after he continued his fine week after shocking second seed David Ferrer on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Inigo Cervantes.
In Stuttgart, Maria Sharapova reached the last eight of the Stuttgart WTA tournament yeserday with a convincing 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow-Russian Anastasia Pavlychenkova.
It was in stark contrast to her struggles of the previous day when she needed three tie-breaks and almost three-and-a-half hours to defeat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in a first round tie. Seeded sixth this year, Sharapova is aiming for a third straight title on the red clay of Stuttgart as the preparations for the French Open get fully underway. AGENCIES