Rafael Nadal won his 50th consecutive set on clay on Thursday to break John McEnroe’s 34-year record and beat Diego Schwartzman at the Madrid Open.
Nadal’s comfortable 6-3, 6-4 victory moves him into the quarter-finals in the Spanish capital and means he sets a new Open era best for the longest streak of victorious sets on a single surface.
McEnroe’s 49-set winning streak on carpet in 1984 included him clinching the Madrid Indoor Open title and Nadal may well be about to follow suit.
He will play Austria’s Dominic Thiem on Friday for a place in the last four.
Nadal had insisted before the match this latest milestone had barely crossed his mind but if nothing else, it is testament to the 31-year-old’s relentless consistency over the past 12 months.
The run includes tournament triumphs in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and last year’s French Open, where he will be the clear favourite later this month to claim a 17th major crown.
Schwartzman, ranked 16th in the world, briefly threatened a comeback on Manolo Santana court when he broke back at 4-3 in the second set.
But the Argentinian double-faulted to give his opponent a second break in the very next game, as Nadal sealed a straight-forward victory in an hour and 44 minutes.