Barcelona, Spain: Defending champion Kei Nishikori eased past Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-2, 6-1 Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.
Four-time finalist David Ferrer also advanced after fending off a challenge from 19-year-old Swede Elias Ymer to win 6-3, 6-4.
Nishikori beat Giraldo last year in straight sets at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona to win his first clay-court title, and the top-seeded Japanese had little trouble repeating his victory after converting five of nine break points.
Nishikori will play Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut next after he defeated 10th-seeded Pablo Cuevas 7-6 (5), 6-2.
Martin Klizan also joined the final eight after ending 34-year-old Victor Estrella's strong start to the tournament with a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Ferrer appeared set to roll to a lopsided win over Ymer as the eighth-ranked Spaniard took a 5-0 lead. But even though Ymer ceded the first set, he matched Ferrer's ground game and won seven of the next eight games to go up 4-0 in the second set.
Ferrer then surged back to win six straight games, and closed out the match by claiming 11 of the last 12 points.
Later, second-seeded Rafael Nadal plays Italian Fabio Fognini, who beat him on clay earlier this year in Rio de Janeiro.