Top-ranked

Rafael Nadal

looked more like his confident self on the clay in passing

Ivan Dodig

of Croatia, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the Barcelona Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

Nadal was struggling with his game coming into the event and an unconvincing opening victory Wednesday did little to calm the nerves. But Nadal looked more assured as he ousted the 37th-ranked Dodig in 83 minutes in the third round.

Nadal moves on to face fellow Spanish player Nicolas Almagro in an early rematch of last season's final.

GOLF More people than ever signed up for a chance to play in the U.S. Open. The USGA said it received a record 10,127 entrants for the U.S. Open, which will be played June 12-15 at Pinehurst No. 2 in New Jersey. That breaks the previous mark of 9,860 who entered a year ago.

Ben Martin treated a tiny gallery to a course-record round, shooting a 10-under 62 in the first round of the Zurich Classic in Avondale, La.

SWIMMING Michael Phelps is 0 for 1 in his comeback to the pool. The 22-time Olympic medalist lost to Ryan Lochte in the 100-meter butterfly final at the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz., on Thursday night.

Lochte touched first in 51.93 seconds, second-fastest in the world this year. Phelps was second in 52.13 in his first meet since retiring after the 2012 London Olympics.

Phelps is the three-time Olympic champion and world record-holder in the event. His time tied for fourth-quickest in the world. Olympian Jason Dunford of Kenya finished third in 53.08.

Phelps was faster in the final than he was in winning his preliminary heat with a time of 52.84.

Swimming before a sellout crowd and lots of cameras, Lochte led at the turn and Phelps was second.

ARENA FOOTBALL Soul defensive back Rayshaun Kizer was voted Arena Football League MVP for Week 6 of the season. Kizer led the Soul with a season-high 9.5 tackles to go with three pass breakups and a forced fumble in a 54-41 victory over the Jacksonville Sharks. - Wire reports