Madrid, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Three-time champion Rafael Nadal was an easy third-round winner, while former titlist Andy Murray was an upset victim Thursday at the $5 million Madrid Open, an ATP Masters 1000 event.
The world No. 1 superstar handled Finnish fellow left-hander Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-4 on the red clay at the Magic Box.
"During the first hour I played better than yesterday, more dynamically and with more intensity," said Nadal. "I knew what I was doing with every ball with no surprises. I was defending properly and knowing what was happening in every single moment. Perhaps that's something I wasn't able to do in recent weeks."
Nadal, who failed to title in his last two clay court events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, beat Swiss Stan Wawrinka in last year's finale in the Spanish capital.
In addition to his titles in 2005, 2010 and last year, the record 26-time Masters champion Nadal was also a Madrid runner-up in 2009 and 2011.
Nadal's quarterfinal opponent on Friday will be sixth-seeded Czech slugger Tomas Berdych, who came from behind on Day 5 to beat 12th-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The reigning French and U.S. Open champion Nadal beat last week's Portugal Open runner-up Berdych in the 2010 Wimbledon final.
Colombian clay court specialist Santiago Giraldo recorded his first Top-10 win by knocking out the seventh-seeded Murray in easy 6-3, 6-2 fashion. Murray has now failed to reach a final in his first seven tournaments this season.
Murray captured the Madrid title in 2008 when the tournament was staged on hardcourts.
Tenth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori upended eighth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5), rising Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut drubbed Polish lucky loser Lukasz Kubot 6-4, 6-2 and talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis erased capable Croat Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4 at this French Open tune-up.
Also on Thursday, Spanish southpaw Feliciano Lopez reached the round of eight when Austrian Dominic Thiem pulled out of the draw, citing a left thigh injury.