Rafael Nadal
Nadal favourite to reach the quarter-final in Barcelona Reuters

Third seed Rafael Nadal takes on unseeded South African player Kevin Anderson in the Men's singles R16 match of 2017 Barcelona Open on Thursday.

The nine-time champion decimated world number 69 Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-1, 6-2 in the second-round clash yesterday to begin his quest for a record-breaking 10 title in style.

On the other hand, Anderson, after beating Carlos Berlocq in first-round on Tuesday, eased past world number 32 David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4 in the R32 match.

Nadal and Anderson are meeting for the fourth time with the world number five winning all their three battles in the past. With today's tie being their first clash on the red dirt, there is no prize for guessing who will start as favourite, given the Spaniard's recent form.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion has been at the peak of his abilities ever since he returned from an injury layoff at Brisbane in January, this year. With three runner-up finishes (Acapulco, Australian Open and Miami Open) and a record-breaking 10th title in Monte Carlo, Nadal is having a 25-5 record this season and the "King of Clay" has just dropped one game so far in six matches on clay.

Meanwhile, Anderson has struggled in the ongoing season with early exits and has a woeful 5-4 record so far. The former top-10 player has struggled to get back to his best after an suffering an array of knee, shoulder and ankle injuries in 2016 season, in which he finished with a losing record of 17-21.

Despite having started his clay season with two confidence-boosting wins on the trot, the big-serving South African will face an uphill task against in-form Nadal later today.