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Nadal convinced he can power on and continue to defy age barrier

 

By Steve Simpson

Rafael Nadal doesn't "feel old" after moving a step closer to an incredible 11th French Open title yesterday by beating German Maximilian Marterer to reach the quarter-finals the day after his 32nd birthday.

The World No.1's 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-4) victory over the World No.70 saw him equal the record of 12 last-eight appearances at Roland Garros, which was set by Novak Djokovic the day before.

Top seed Nadal, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, is now on his own in third on the all-time list for most match wins at Grand Slam events with 234 victories after passing Jimmy Connors.

"I don't feel old. But I am 32, and I have been here since 2003, so it's a long way, a lot of years," he said.

"I started very young, but I feel happy to be here. I am enjoying the day by day on the tour and I hope to keep doing this for a while."

Nadal powered 39 winners past Marterer and will face Argentinian Diego Schwartzman for a semi-final spot, after the 11th seed staged a thrilling comeback to down sixth seed Kevin Anderson 1-6 2-6 7-5 7-6 (7-0) 6-2.

"It's always good to see him in the quarter-final because he's a good friend. He's a worker, and I'm happy to see him having all this success. Hopefully not too much (though)," smiled Nadal.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion has now won 37 consecutive sets at Roland Garros, just four short of Bjorn Borg's record set between 1979 and 1981.

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