Madrid, Oct 19: World number two Rafael Nadal clinched a thrilling 7-6 6-4 victory over Britain's Andy Murray to claim a place in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Masters.
The two men played some superb tennis as they slugged it out in front of a packed crowd at the Madrid Arena, but it was 2005 champion Nadal who played the big points better and managed to edge victory over the Scot.
''It was a very intense, high-level game and I'm very pleased I came through. I played a very complete match,'' said Nadal.
The Spaniard had edged a five-set epic on the only previous occasion the two players met in the last 16 of the Australian Open at the start of the year and this was almost as dramatic.
Murray made a confident start, slamming down two aces to take the opening game and then giving Nadal plenty of problems on his serve with some brilliant returns.
But with Murray failing to convert five break points in the early games, Nadal grew in confidence and eventually edged the set on a tie-break.
It was nip-and-tuck in the second set with Murray holding the early advantage at 4-2 up, but Nadal had the greater reserves, fought back to draw level and claimed the match-winning break in the 10th yesterday.
''It was an unbelievably close match,'' said Murray. ''There were a lot of tough points and it could have gone either way.'' The Spaniard now meets David Nalbandian who beat fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 6-2 6-4 earlier in the day.
Defending champion Roger Federer was at his dominant best as he crushed Argentine Guillermo Canas 6-0 6-3 to take his place in the quarter-finals.
The world number one made a whirlwind start on the super-fast greenset surface to rattle through the first set, leaving Canas totally bemused.
The Argentine put up stiffer resistance in the second set but still could not cope with the technical brilliance of the 26-year-old Swiss, who wrapped up the match in under an hour.
''I took my chances and always felt in control. It was a good feeling out there,'' said Federer who lost back-to-back matches against Canas at the beginning of the year.
Federer will meet wild card Feliciano Lopez after the Spaniard brushed aside Austrian qualifier Stefan Koubek 7-6 6-1 in the evening's late match.
Third seed Novak Djokovic, Fernando Gonzalez, Mario Ancic and Nicolas Kiefer also booked their places in the quarters.
Djokovic fended off a determined Juan Carlos Ferrero to beat the former world number one 6-3 2-6 6-4 and clinch a win that set up a showdown with Ancic who eased through 6-4 6-3 against Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu.
Last year's losing finalist Fernando Gonzalez breezed into the last eight with an emphatic 6-4 6-2 victory over Argentine Juan Monaco.
The win also took the fifth-seeded Chilean a step closer to securing his place at the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai for the second time in his career.
Gonzalez will now meet Germany's Nicolas Kiefer who won 7-6 7-6 against big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic.
Karlovic hammered 22 aces against his lower-ranked opponent but Kiefer survived the barrage to reach the last eight.