Barcelona Open Round-up: Rafael Nadal beats Fognini; Kei Nishikori through to semis as well
14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal’s last match with Fabio Fognini at the Real Tenis Club de Barcelona was not something he would have liked to remember. A year ago, the Spaniard was handed his earliest defeat at the Barcelona Open since 2003 by the Italian when he slumped to a third-round loss.
On Friday, the World No. 5 banished all those memories with a 6-2, 7-6(1) quarter-final win over the 12th seed.
It was not an easy affair, though. Fognini, who also upset Rafa at last year’s US Open, did trouble Rafa with his aggressive display in the second set. He broke the top-seeded Rafa thrice in this 1 hour 49 minute contest, two of which came in the second set.
Fognini even got a chance to serve out the set at 5-3 but a resurgent Nadal denied him, extending the match into a tie-break which he dominated.
This was the Spaniard’s eighth consecutive victory this season after winning the Monte Carlo Masters last week.
In the semi-finals, the eight-time Barcelona champion will face the 10th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who thrashed the 16th seeded Andrey Kuznetsov, 6-3, 6-1.
13th consecutive Barcelona win for Nishikori
The second-seeded Kei Nishikori had an uphill task in the first set against the 11th seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov, who had as many as four set points. But the two-time defending champion saved them all and then cruised through the second set for a 7-5, 6-0 victory.
He is now on a 13-match winning streak at this venue.
Nishikori will now face the in-form sixth seed Benoit Paire, who edged past Tunisian Malek Jaziri, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 in his quarter-final.
The Frenchman should feel confident about his chances against Nishikori, having toppled the Japanese in their past two meetings, the most famous of which came in the 2015 US Open first round.