BARCELONA - Rafael Nadal continued his perfect start to the European clay-court season by easing past fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open on Thursday.

Nadal is looking to equal Argentine legend Guillermo Vilas's record of 49 clay-court tournament wins and capture a ninth title in the Catalan capital having claimed the Monte Carlo Masters last week. The 14-time Grand Slam champion has suffered shock defeats in Barcelona in the past two years, but looks back close to his best on his favoured surface as he won eight of the last 10 games to take his career record over the 35-year-old Montanes to 4-0 in just over an hour on court.

Nadal was first on centre court due to a reschedule caused by a morning rain delay, but was much more at ease with conditions having complained of the strong winds during his second-round win over Marcel Granollers on Wednesday.

"It was much nicer today. It was a strange day because it rained all morning but the truth is there is no comparison between today and yesterday," said Nadal.

And the 29-year-old planned to make the most of an early finish with a mid-tournament trip to the cinema. "I need to do my recovery work as it is the second tournament in a row, last week was a hard week with a lot of long matches and so I'll rest and maybe even go to the cinema."

Nadal will face a much tougher test in the quarter-finals on Friday against Italian 12th seed Fabio Fognini, who overcame Serbia's Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-2 to reach the last eight. Fognini dumped Nadal out at the last 16 in Barcelona last year and also inflicted his first ever Grand Slam defeat after winning the first two sets at the US Open in September.

Kerber into Stuttgart quarters: Germany's Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber withstood a tough opening second-round match against compatriot Annika Beck to reach the quarter-finals of the Stuttgart WTA indoor tournament on Wednesday.

Kerber, the defending champion on clay in Stuttgart, needed just over two hours to seal her 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win to reach the last eight after receiving a first-round bye. The pair of Germans last met in the fourth round of the Australian Open when Kerber beat Beck in straight sets on her way to the title. "It's always difficult to play against another German, who you know so well," said Kerber, who played alongside Beck in Germany's Fed Cup play-off win over Romania last weekend. "I am now just happy to have gone further in the tournament."

Kerber's win marked a good day for Germany with both Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges also winning their first-round matches.

Earlier, 2015 US Open finalist Roberta Vinci served out a tense first-round encounter with former top-10 player Ekaterina Makarova by dispatching the Russian 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4.

In the second round, Italy's Vinci will play 2011 Stuttgart champion Goerges, who outfoxed France's Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-0 in just one hour and 16 minutes. Petkovic had few problems as she won her fourth straight encounter against France's Kristina Mladenovic for a 6-2, 6-4 first-round victory.

Petkovic will next take on top seed Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday in the second round. Third seed Garbina Muguruza of Spain also made it to the quarter-finals with her 6-2, 6-2 win over Timea Babos of Hungary. The only shock of the day came when eighth seed Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic crashed out 7-6 in a hard-fought 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-5 win for compatriot Karolina Pliskova. Pliskova now faces former world number one Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the second round on Thursday.