Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal sets up blockbuster final with Kei Nishikori
It was the final that all tennis fans had been waiting for eagerly and now it’s a reality as top seed Rafael Nadal and second seed Kei Nishikori are set to meet for the title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Sunday. Between them, they have a staggering 10 Barcelona Open titles which makes this summit showdown an absolute must-watch.
The final will also witness two impressive streaks clashing as the two-time defending champion Nishikori is on a 14-match winning streak at this venue while Nadal, who won the Monte Carlo Masters last week, has now reigned supreme in his last nine matches.
Straight-set semi-final wins for both Nadal and Nishikori
On Saturday, there were pretty straightforward wins for both the men in the semi-finals.
It was first Nishikori who booked his place in his third consecutive final with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over the sixth seed Benoit Paire. The Frenchman was, by no means, an easy opponent for the Japanese as Paire had toppled him in their last two meetings.
But the World No. 6 was right on target from the very beginning and did not give his opponent any rhythm. He broke Paire twice in the opening set without facing a single break point himself.
The second set too headed the same way as Nishikori pulled the trigger early and surged to a 2-0 lead. There was, however, a brief loss of focus from the Japanese which helped the sixth seed to break him right back. But Paire’s joy was short-lived as the defending champion wrapped up soon afterwards, finishing with a barrage of 15 winners.
In the second semi-final, home favourite and eight-time winner Nadal too was sublime as he beat the 10th seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-3, 6-3.
The fifth-ranked Rafa did not get broken in the entire match and fired 18 winners past the German. He made in-roads into Kohlschreiber’s game a total of three times, two of which came in the second set.
Nadal and Nishikori have met nine times with the Spaniard holding an 8-1 edge over the Japanese. The former World No. 1 won their most recent meeting in the quarter-finals of the Indian Wells Masters.