©

Kei Nishikori is chasing a third straight Barcelona crown.

Nishikori Keeps Up Barcelona Winning Run

Twelve wins and counting for Nishikori

It was a slight scramble to the finish line, but two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori is through to the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open BancSabadell after defeating Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-5 on Thursday.

The second seed failed to close out the match when he served at 5-4 in the second set, but broke Chardy again in the 11th game before sealing victory at the second time of asking, converting his second match point in 84 minutes.

Nishikori has won his past 12 matches at this ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tournament, clinching back-to-back titles in 2014 (d. Giraldo) and 2015 (d. Andujar). The 26 year old has a 17-3 tournament record and goes on to face Alexandr Dolgopolov, who ended the run of qualifier Karen Khachanov with a 6-4, 7-5 victory.

Nishikori is playing his first clay-court tournament of the season and is coming off a runner-up showing at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Miami (l. to Djokovic). The right-hander is 21-6 this season, winning his 11th ATP World Tour title in Memphis (d. Fritz).

Sixth seed Benoit Paire cruised into the last eight with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Pablo Cuevas in just under an hour. The Frenchman set a quarter-final clash with Malek Jaziri, who defeated #NextGen star Alexander Zverev 7-6(5), 6-4. 

More stories like this in: