Top seeds Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty both advanced during Wednesday's play in the 2021 Madrid Open at the Manzanares Park Tennis Center in Spain.
Nadal, a five-time tournament champion, won his second-round match against Spanish countryman Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets. Barty needed three sets to move past ninth-seeded Petra Kvitova for a berth in the women's semifinals.
Let's check out all of the scores from Wednesday's clay-court action. That's followed by a recap of some key storylines.
Men's Results (Second Round)
(1) Rafael Nadal d. Carlos Alcaraz; 6-1, 6-2
(2) Daniil Medvedev d. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina; 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
(4) Stefanos Tsitsipas d. Benoit Paire; 6-1, 6-2
(5) Alexander Zverev d. Kei Nishikori; 6-3, 6-2
Aslan Karatsev d. (7) Diego Schwartzman; 2-6, 6-4, 6-1
John Isner d. (9) Roberto Bautista Agut; 6-4, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6)
Alexei Popyrin d. (14) Jannik Sinner; 7-6 (5), 6-2
(16) Cristian Garin d. Dominik Koepfer; 6-3, 6-4
Dan Evans d. John Millman; 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3
Federico Delbonis d. Albert Ramos Vinolas; 7-6 (5), 6-3
Casper Ruud d. Yoshihito Nishioka; 6-1, 6-2
Women's Results (Quarterfinals)
(1) Ashleigh Barty d. Petra Kvitova; 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
(5) Aryna Sabalenka d. (13) Elise Mertens; 6-1, 4-0 ret.
Paula Badosa d. (8) Belinda Bencic; 6-4, 7-5
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Karolina Muchova; 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2)
Day 5 Recap
Nadal is following his yearly trend of rounding into peak form just in time for the French Open, which is scheduled to begin May 30.
The King of Clay won the Barcelona Open last month and kicked off his run in Madrid with a dominant showing against Alcaraz, a newly 18-year-old rising star who was simply outclassed Wednesday after beating Adrian Mannarino with relative ease in the opening round.
Nadal won 81 percent of the points on his first serve and 63 percent of all points on Alcaraz's serve to earn five breaks, advancing to Round 3 in just 75 minutes.
"He has a lot of potential. He's young and [a] good guy," Nadal told reporters. "He already has a great level of tennis today, but I really believe that he's going to be a fantastic player in the near future."
Meanwhile, Medvedev survived an early test from Davidovich Fokina by bouncing back after dropping the first set to move through.
The 25-year-old Russian typically struggles on clay—he's never advanced beyond the first round of the French Open in four tries—and this marks his first tournament on the surface in 2021.
It wasn't his most efficient performance as he converted just five of the 16 break points he generated, but he came up with enough clutch points in the final two sets to fend off the upset bid.
"I am happy with the win," Medvedev said. "The first set wasn't easy and I thought it was going to be where I had another 25 break points and I wouldn't win. I finally played quite well and did well in the third set. I think Madrid is a little faster than other clay tournaments, so better for my game."
On the women's side, Barty's challenge from Kvitova was the second time in the tournament she was forced to a third set. She also went the distance against Tamara Zidansek in the second round.
The 2019 French Open champion, who skipped most of last season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, collected six aces and collected four breaks for her 15th straight win on clay.
"It's just always staying in the fight," Barty said. "Always staying in the hunt and never letting it slide away. That certainly doesn't guarantee results, doesn't guarantee success. It guarantees you give yourself the best chance to do what you do and to figure it out and to find your way."
Her chief competition for the Madrid title figures to come from fifth-seeded Sabalenka, who won 10 of the 11 games played against Mertens before the Belgian's retirement.
Sabalenka has reached the semis without losing more than three games in any of her eight sets. Her last two losses have come to Barty in the Miami Open quarters and the Stuttgart final, a stretch that includes three wins over seeded opponents, including No. 2 Simona Halep.
Her recent play has established her as a serious contender for the French Open and, in the short term, makes her a clear favorite in the penultimate round Pavlyuchenkova to set up another likely showdown with Barty, who's set to face Badosa on the opposite side of the bracket.
Play in the Madrid Open continues Thursday with the women's semifinals and the men's third round.