Fixture: (1) Rafael Nadal vs Cameron Norrie
Date: 23 April 2021
Tournament: Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell 2021
Venue: Barcelona, Spain
Category: ATP 500
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €1,565,480
Match timing: Not before 4 pm local time, 7.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Rafael Nadal vs Cameron Norrie preview
Rafael Nadal will be looking to book his place in the last four at the Barcelona Open when he takes on Great Britain's Cameron Norrie on Friday.
Nadal, who is gunning for a record-extending 12th title in Barcelona, looked rather listless at the start of his opener against Ilya Ivashka. After dropping the first set, the World No. 3 fought hard to gain control of the match, and ultimately registered a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Nadal then received another stern test from former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori in the third round. Although the Spaniard bagelled Nishikori in the opening set, he soon fell at the mercy of the Japanese's big groundstrokes and surrendered the second set 6-2.
But Nishikori eventually ran out of steam, allowing Nadal to break serve twice in the deciding set and advance to the quarterfinals.
Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, had dropped six of his previous seven matches on clay before arriving in Barcelona. But the Brit has turned his fortunes around at the 500-level tournament in magnificent fashion.
Norrie first beat Italy's Salvatore Caruso in the first round, before registering a hard-fought three-set win over World No. 23 Karen Khachanov in the second.
The 25-year-old proceeded to bagel World No. 12 David Goffin in the first set of their Round of 16 encounter. Although he went a break down in the second, Norrie was given safe passage into the quarterfinals as Goffin was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Rafael Nadal vs Cameron Norrie head-to-head
Rafael Nadal leads Cameron Norrie by a margin of 1-0 in the head-to-head. Their only meeting came in the third round of the Australian Open this year, where Nadal beat Norrie in straight sets.
Rafael Nadal vs Cameron Norrie prediction
Rafael Nadal has struggled to identify the right moment to pull the trigger on his forehand lately. He has also shown an uncharacteristic tendency to commit errors from neutral positions, giving away a lot of free points to his opponents.
Another worry for the Spaniard ahead of his last-eight encounter is his shaky serve. Nadal failed to find his spots during his match against Nishikori, coughing up as many as 13 break point opportunities overall. And even though the 34-year-old saved 11 of those, he would certainly prefer to have relatively stress-free service games as he progresses in the tournament.
Cameron Norrie, on his part, has solid groundstrokes and an accurate serve but does not possess the power to hit through Nadal on clay. Having said that, the Brit being a left-hander would be able to stay with Nadal in the forehand-to-forehand exchanges.
All things considered, Norrie will likely offer Nadal a little resistance on Friday. But Barcelona is known as Nadal's stomping ground, and he should be favored to come through this one unscathed.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in two tight sets.