Barcelona Open 2019: Can Rafael Nadal make it to another final?
Rafael Nadal's record on clay is mind-boggling to say the least. Just last week, we were talking about him looking for his 12th Monte Carlo 1000 Masters title, before he was stunned by an inspired Fabio Fognini. But Nadal is back at it in no time, and we are now talking about the possibility of yet another astonishing milestone.
Playing in front of his home crowd, Nadal is looking for his 12th title at the Barcelona Open as well. The highlight of his road to the semifinals here has been his bittersweet win open friend and compatriot David Ferrer, who was playing for the last time in Barcelona.
Nadal came out of the encounter unscathed and has not dropped a set in his last two matches. His semifinal opponent is a tricky customer though. Third seed Dominic Thiem has defeated Nadal thrice on clay, and that is no mean feat.
Thiem enjoys the big stage, with two of his three wins over Nadal coming in Masters 1000 tournaments. He is looking in better form than he did in Monte Carlo and would be vying for his second final in Barcelona, having lost the summit clash to Nadal two years ago.
Nadal, however, would be fully prepared to take on Thiem in the high-stakes battle. Both men exhibit their best game on clay, and will be looking to make a statement with the French Open less than a month away.
Nadal should have enough strength in the artillery to get through this one, but you can't write off Thiem at any point.
The other semifinal will see two-time former champion Kei Nishikori taking on Monte Carlo semifinalist Daniil Medvedev. While Medvedev has not faced a single seed up to this point, he will be high on confidence, having come out with wins over Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo.
Nishikori's strong track record here would be a significant advantage for him, and he would be looking to add another final to his name. But Medvedev's sublime backhand and top-spin heavy forehand might just prove to be too much for Nishikori.
Predicted final: Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev