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'I played much better,' says Rafael Nadal after brushing aside Kei Nishikori challenge

Rafael Nadal reacts in Barcelona

Rafael Nadal says he played 'much better' in his win over Kei Nishikori, even if the Japanese ace did hand him the first set.

Nadal was well below his brilliant best in his opening match against Ilya Ivashka on Wednesday, and he was expected to be handed a much sterner test against former US Open finalist Nishikori.

The Spanish ace rose to that challenge, though, ruthlessly punishing Nishikori for an error-strewn first set and easing into the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 win.

"I think I played much better than yesterday," Nadal said after the match.

That's a very important thing for me, and the level of positive energy has been higher. So, [I'm] very satisfied."

Nishikori was a different player in the second set as he looked to fight his way back into the match, but he was not able to sustain it in the third.

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"Kei [Nishikori] is an amazing player," Nadal continued. "Later he increased his level, so it was very tough but I found a way to get through.

"It's an important victory for me. He played great I think after that first set and I started playing very well.

"But, it's true that he [made] things a little bit easier at the beginning."

Nadal will now face British number two Cam Norrie in the last eight after David Goffin retired hurt from their match due to injury.

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