Rafael Nadal Meets Kei Nishikori In Blockbuster Barcelona Final, Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | April 23rd, 2016, 3:52 pm
  • 118 Comments

So far so good for Rafael Nadal. After a dismal start to the 2016 season, Nadal has picked up his game just as the tour turned to the European red clay. Imagine that!

He won Monte Carlo and is now backing up it impressively this week in Barcelona. The field isn’t anywhere near as strong as Monaco, but Nadal’s got two pretty good wins the last two days beating Fabio Fognini and this afternoon Phil Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-3 to reach the finals.

β€œIt was my worst match of the week, I hit many unforced errors with my backhand today. It’s fantastic that I made it to the final,” said Nadal.

Tomorrow, he’ll seek a ninth tournament title against 2-time defending champion Kei Nishikori in what should be a heck of a matchup.

Nishikori won his 14th straight match at the event beating Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-2. But he’s never played someone like Nadal (or anyone in the Top 15) during this three-year reign in Spain.

Nishikori did nearly beat Rafa in Madrid in 2014, and were it not for a back injury he would have. They’ve played twice since with Nishikori finally winning last summer in Canada while Rafa got back on top last month in Indian Wells, a win that did wonders for Nadal’s confidence I think.

Overall, it’s 8-1 in favor of Nadal. But this won’t be easy, and Rafa knows it.

“Tomorrow I will play against one of the world’s best players and it will be complicated,” said Nadal. “I have to play a great match to win the final.”

What interesting is if you could time warp from four years to today and see the results this month, you would just assume Nadal is still Nadal and tomorrow’s final was a foregone conclusion.

But Nadal is not Nadal. He’s playing better, but he’s nowhere near his vintage self, and that’s not lost on his opposition. Yes, the scores look impressive, but that dominant game still isn’t there, and might never return.

That said, even though he wasn’t pleased with his performance today, I like Rafa’s momentum right now and I think he’ll ride it to victory tomorrow. To do it, he’ll have to serve well and rip that forehand, otherwise Nishikori will punish him and get him moving from side-to-side.
The pick: Nadal in three

To me, this almost feels like a bigger match than Monte Carlo where we weren’t 100% sure where Nadal was at.

Now there’s expectation. The buzz is starting to come back. Now Nadal’s on his surface, in his country, on a court he’s won eight titles on and he’s favored against a Top 10 foe who’s been playing awfully well at this event. This is no Gael Monfils. This is pressure. Let’s see how he handles it.


You Might Like:
Rafael Nadal Faces Fabio Fognini Friday In Barcelona; Kei Nishikori Win Streak At 12
Former Champions Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori Continue On Barcelona Collision Course
Nadal v Nishikori In Madrid Final Sunday, Who’s The Pick? (Hint: It’s Not The Guy Who’s Undefeated On Clay!)
Djokovic, Nadal Lead Blockbuster Saturday Semis at Madrid
Kei Nishikori: “I Have A Lot Of Confidence On Clay Right Now”

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118 Comments for Rafael Nadal Meets Kei Nishikori In Blockbuster Barcelona Final, Who’s The Pick?

Travis Bickle Says:

I find it strange (and disappointing) that the poll on who will win Barcelona 2016 doesn’t have Roger Federer as a choice.

We all know that choice would have at least 30% of votes…
Just sayin’


J-Kath Says:

I find it surprising that this thread is almost neglected.

Travis: ….U can do better….Just sayin’


Travis Bickle Says:

J-Kath,

This is the first time I clicked on your name-link. And what I saw is … surprising. But in a good way!

An internet provider link!?!
WTF…

Of all possible links you could have chosen, or no link at all, you opted for this one. There is something ingeniously odd about it, something Fellini-esque. Tells me a lot about you, J-Kath.
And I like what I am seeing :-)


J-Kath Says:

Travis

All I can say is WOW! It’s 23.40pm my time – and I usually postpone doing what I ought to do at that time of night…


Pauly Says:

Good luck to Nadal he will surely need it this match
Nishikori is playing great tennis
The key to the match is Nadal’s forehand no doubt
If he rips it he will win
Nadal isn’t at his best best yet but is Peaking each tournament


danica Says:

Rafa : Nishi = 52% : 48%


Van Persie Says:

Rafa 60%


Margot Says:

Travis @6.08
An excellent, early morning laugh! Cheers. But in the interests of equal opps I demand to know where the “vote Andy” choice is.


James Says:

I am rapidly losing interest in this senior tour. Kei is just about the only middle age guy left with some potential. The matches are becoming like women’s tennis + 15-20 mph on serve and strokes. Artful, attacking tennis with more winners than errors is almost gone.

Congratulations ATP for all the changes you have made in balls, courts and racquets to make that happen.


Margot Says:

James, instead of moaning and belittling the WTA, you should be watching Laura Siegemund.


Jun Says:

See ya later! Thanks for watching.

Oh you haven’t left yet. Spoke too soon… Damn!


vmk1 Says:

Any live streaming website?


Daniel Says:

fromhot.com


Daniel Says:

Kei had a 15-30 and than a 15-40 on Nadal serve and couldn’t capitalize, but credit to Nadal who hit 3 FH winners after getting down on his serve. Key holder to love, let’s see now how he serve after having 2 BP’s


Daniel Says:

Hum, classic, not converting BP just to get your service broken right after.


Daniel Says:

Now a 0-40, let’s see if Kei breaks back now.


Margot Says:

And he does.
Where are the Rafa fans? It’s a bit empty round here….


Daniel Says:

Kei playing with danger, got the break back, 40-15 and now deuce.


Daniel Says:

Kei is smacking the ball, a lot of winner from both sides.

Nadal had problems on serve last 3 times losing opening point,and now again.


jalep Says:

This makes me too nervous. Kei held, sigh. I’m a huge Kei Nishikori fan. I can’t get my hopes up and not sure I can watch much of this.


Daniel Says:

0-40 again. Match so far completely on Kei’s racquet.


Daniel Says:

Nadal saving a bunch of BP’s, 7 out of 8 already in 3 games.


Daniel Says:

If Kei olds his serve (which is hard because eventually Nadal will break him), he can win, he is in all Nadal’s service games, having multiple BP’s in 3 of 4 games so far. But Nadal got some good serves BP down and Kei made some Unforced errors when going for Broke.
Nadal’s serve still a liability but his mental fortitude is there.

Sense a break coming now.


Margot Says:

Oh my Kei’s backhand is so sweet. Probably not as consistent as Nole’s but so whipped and so strong. It is a thing of beauty.
Excellent match so far.


Daniel Says:

Great DTL lobby, difficult shot.


Daniel Says:

Kei is eating up Nadal’s second serve


Anto Says:

Nadal won the first set .. :)


Margot Says:

Fit set Rafa. He is such an amazing competitor. Hope Kei doesn’t crumble now
Have to ask, are all Rafa fans behind the sofa, or in the shed at the bottom of the garden?


Daniel Says:

Kei had all the opportunities to got more breaks, didn’t capitalize and Nadal did his thing and pressure when 5-4, got the break, the set and will start serving first second set.

This still feels like is in Kei’s racquet, he was in all Nadal’s service games, even to sole time Nadal was 40-15 Kei was able to make it deuce, he just needs to play the bigger points better.

But if he wants to force a third he will have to take his chances and break. He doesn’t have a great serve to win many free points so if he doesn’t break he’ll lose in 2.

Also let’s see if Nadal raise his level after winning a close set


Okiegal Says:

C’mon Rafa……I’m keeping my fingers crossed, my legs crossed and my eyes….that just about covers it!! VAMOS!! πŸ‚πŸ‚πŸ‚


Daniel Says:

From 40-0 to BP now for Kei after an amazing return winner. Another chance


Daniel Says:

And he breaks!


Okiegal Says:

@Margot, I’m here….missed the first 6 games, went to church…..I am not hiding. I’m a brave like fan!!


Daniel Says:

drop shots not working Kei. kk


Daniel Says:

Kei is not winning this, he plays wrong shots when he is ahead, 2 drops shots wrong and he conceal the break back.


Margot Says:

Hi OK. :) Very good match, swinging one way then the other. Have a feeling, altho Kei is playing better, Rafa will win.


Margot Says:

Agree Daniel, Kei is not making the most of his chances, and then gets really frustrated.


Daniel Says:

First easy hold by Nadal after winning a moral booster point with a vintage FH DTL passing shot.

Kei was broken 3 out of 6 times he served so he better tighten his service game and not make easy mistakes, hold and create more chances later if Nadal gives him too many second serves.


Daniel Says:

If Nadal wins today does he ties Guillermo Vilas as record holder in clay titles won? I think so. Fitting for the king of clay to be also all time clay title record holder.


Daniel Says:

Nadal finding his range and balls close to baseline.

Feels like he wants to play Djoko tomorrow


Daniel Says:

4 out of 7 times broken, Kei doesn’t have a serve, Nadal knows that even if he gets broken he will break back. Match over


Margot Says:

Here we go. Rafa breaks again and looks utterly dominant.


Daniel Says:

Nadal ‘s defense is the best it is in last 1 and half years, he as able to get ball close to baseline again and not just leave mid court.


Daniel Says:

Well this is the game, deuce6,if Nadla holds he will win easily if Kei breaks maybe he can prolong a bit


Daniel Says:

And Nadal holds for a 4-1 win. Kei needs to hold (tuff for him as he is 3 out of 7) and try to break later.

He should try to force more first serves, he is not winning that much out if it anyway.


elina Says:

I just hope you write about Roger when he plays lol!


Daniel Says:

Easy love hold for Kei.


Pauly Says:

Nishikori hasn’t taken his chances but Nadal is playing better
GILES will be happy


Margot Says:

Suddenly game 5, Kei learns how to serve.
How weird.


Daniel Says:

Kei will need a sting of 6-8 flawless points and a few errors from Nadal and second serves to have a chance


Daniel Says:

Oh, Nadal let the ball pass, 15-40.


Daniel Says:

And Kei breaks. Let’s see if he can have another easy hold. He needs it for a momentum swing, right now he won 8 of the last 9 points, so he better ride on it.


Pauly Says:

4-1 up its getting closer
Wow Nishikori not giving up


Daniel Says:

Nadal’s defense again, 0-30


Daniel Says:

Kei has no serve, he just can’t hold.


Daniel Says:

2 BP saved by Kei, deuce. this game is do or die for him.


Daniel Says:

Nadal’s defense is amazing today, Kei sometimes shoudl try to wrong foot, another BP Nadal


Daniel Says:

Great hold by Kei saving 3 BP’s, 4-4 now he just some pressure on Nadal.


Pauly Says:

Nishikori not giving up
He could win this set has the momentum


Daniel Says:

5-4 Nadal, now pressure on Kei to hold. Expect Nadal to go for broke as he did first serve.


Anto Says:

I hope nadal breaks here and wins the match.


Margot Says:

Kei got tight at this stage first set.
We’ll see………


Daniel Says:

Nadal’s inside out FH is on fire today


Daniel Says:

15-30, 2 more pojnts


Daniel Says:

30-30, key point for both


Daniel Says:

MP Nadal after an silly mistake by Kei


Daniel Says:

Brave Kei drop shot down MP


Daniel Says:

And he holds, 5-5. Let’s see if Nadal will feel the pressure of that Match Point.


Pauly Says:

Nishikori great shot
He’s not out of this match
Nadal is vulnerable on serve


Okiegal Says:

^^^^^I’m a brave little fan….should have said….


Anto Says:

Will this go to a tiebreaker?


Pauly Says:

Nishikori deserves to win the tie breaker which will come soon
4-1 down great effort to come back
He can still win this match


Daniel Says:

Hopng for a tiebreak


Daniel Says:

Easy mistake by Kei, short return, should be 30-0 up and is 15-15 risking the game


Daniel Says:

How did Nadal got to the volley?!?!


Daniel Says:

Bizarre game, Nadal will win on pure defense with moon balls, 15-40 too bad, frustrating for Kei


Pauly Says:

Bad game from Nishikori
I wanted tie breaker
More tennis
Well done Nadal


Anto Says:

Nadal won his 9th barcelona title.


Pauly Says:

Nishikori didn’t take his chances
Nadal is getting better but not still at his best
Serve is very vulnerable especially if he plays Djokovic


Margot Says:

Congratulations to OKgiel, GL and all other Rafa fans for having the exemplary good sense to be fans of the King of Clay. Not going to congratulate Rafa as he probably doesn’t have time to read tennisx right now.
Unfortunately I’ve put my house on SG1 to win RG but, if I hadn’t, I’d be very tempted to put it on *&##****%!


elina Says:

LOL commies to verbose fedfa I mean Kei fans.

Vamos Rafa!!!!

(hope that one day Lamonf can play half this well)


Giles Says:

Congratulations Rafa on your NINTH Barcelona title.
Well done Champ!


Jun Says:

Congrats to Rafa, the Barcelona champ! Not quite as prestigious as Istanbul, but…

And congrats also to his fans (Okie, Alison and others)!


Pauly Says:

Nadal can win number 10 in Roland Garros
The funny thing is someone who has never won it is the only player that can beat him – Djokovic
However if they play in the final I’d back Nadal
Go Nadal finally getting back to high level of tennis
Great effort Vamos πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘


Karthick Says:

Vamos Rafa!!! All the best for future tournaments!!!


J-Kath Says:

No doubts….Nadal is “True Grit” and it’s not just a movie. My congrats ain’t needed but maybe one or two kind-hearted people can slip them in. What strikes me, is how stunningly he has come back from what looked like a deep chasm.


Okiegal Says:

Whether you love or hate Rafa, you have to admit his fighting spirit is second to none…..


Okiegal Says:

One word sums it up for……delighted!!


nits Says:

@ Okeigal salute to the the fighting spirit of a great champion


Giles Says:

With this win Nadal ties Vilas’ record of 49 titles on clay.


elina Says:

How can I forget?

Congrats to Rafa on his 9th title in Barcelona and to all of his dedicated and obsessed Rafans here alike including Okie, Giles, seΓ±orita, Daniel and Green Lady and anyone I might have forgotten!!!

Rafa showed he is the King of Klei!!!

No. 2 in the Race with a bullet.


Kimberly Says:

Nadal train is picking up steam. Still not totally sold. But….

If he wins Madrid or Rome he will be very very dangerous at Roland garros.


Daniel Says:

Great two weeks for Nadal, he beat Thiem, Fgnini, Wawa, Murray and Kei, all players who beat him in last 12 months. Only lefts is Djoko and Federer.

Now Madrid will be more interesting as Nadal is in main comeback with 2 titles in European clay, just like it was 3 years ago.

If Fed and Djoko play Nadal will be #5 and where he lands could be interesting, could face Djoko Quarters.

Friday when the draw is out we’ll know for sure, but he sure is high on confidence, his game looks way better, specially his defense and shot penetration. Serve still weak but he ain’t change that by now, thus compensating with other parts of his game. Will be very hard to beat this clay season and the only one who seems sure right now is Djoko.

Madrid plays faster so other players would have chances, including Kei and Murray.


Daniel Says:

Just checked, Villas has 49 clay titles and Nadal has the same number now, 1 more to have another clay record for his own.


Giles Says:

https://twitter.com/sittanyusha/status/724302806589407233
Rafa trophy ceremony.
Vamos Champ!
Well done!


Okiegal Says:

Kei is a great player. I think the experience on the big stage was the difference today. Rafa made some goofs but that’s gonna happen. I have got a new nickname for Kei……sneaky snake….he was deadly with the droppa today! Good player and seems to be a great guy. I know there are a few on TX pulling for him but a better in form Rafa took it to him today! Sorry to those fans!

VAMOS to the πŸ‘‘ of Clay 🎾 πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†
sorry, Margot….just had to show 9 trophies…..please forgive me…..I am so happy Rafa is getting it back together! I hope Andy does well too, I really do!! πŸ†— πŸ‚πŸ‚πŸ‚


Green Lady Says:

Okie right on girl, delighted Rafas back in the winners circle, b2b titles on clay, looks like hes got his mojo back, dont expect him to win everything, and not expecting a second coming, but i love the confidence hes showing, and playing aggressive tennis, its been a long lean miserable spell, so im just enjoying the here and the now, 69 titles, and hopefully more to come, VAMOS TO THE KING OF CLAY ;-)) ….


Okiegal Says:

@Daniel thanks for that little tidbit of info….I was wondering what that stat was….I remembered there was an issue about the number of titles Rafa had as opposed to Vilas. Vilas was right about it all and good on him for stepping forward to protect his record!!


Okiegal Says:

@Daniel thanks for that little tidbit of info….I was wondering what that stat was….I remembered there was an issue about the number of titles Rafa had as opposed to Vilas. Vilas was right about it all and good on him for stepping forward to protect his record!!


Green Lady Says:

And thanks for all the congrats, and from newbie Jun, as i was Alison so CHEERS, BTW Jun have you been here before with another monikor, sorry just curious ?….


Green Lady Says:

So damn p*ssed off, the programme was cut short before the trophy presentation :-(( ….


Okiegal Says:

@Green Lady….I am pleased as punch!! I agree totally with your post at 3:12……just so great to see him fighting tooth and nail for the match! Confidence is better and that’s a plus. But how he fairs against the #1 will tell the tale……


Okiegal Says:

I was mad about that too….hopefully it will be on you tube at some point…..


Green Lady Says:

Okie lol, your also agreeing with yourself ;-))….

BTW I will have to take another break soon, as i have more course work and studying to do ….


Green Lady Says:

Okie just saw a short clip, Rafa and two girls stood next to him, come on tennis-x how about a thread on Nadals Barcelona win please ? ….


Humble Rafa Says:

come on tennis-x how about a thread on Nadals Barcelona win please ? ….

That would be too fair here. If the Arrogant One makes the third round, he gets his own story (with 2 sets of twins and a loving wife).

Humble won’t be distracted by such low level antics. I am going to win the FO and along the way, I will get a story or two (though most people here believe the Arrogant One will likely win the FO_


Okiegal Says:

To congratulate or not to congratulate…..that is the question?? I love that someone would take the time to single out fans for kudos and “I’m sorries” I think it shows that we posters are honest to gosh human beings who have feelings……..so having said that, a big THANKS to Margot, Nits, elina, J-Kath and Jun, I for one like to see my name in “lights”……appreciate you guys!!! I’m so happy atm…..Will it last?? Oh, I hope so…….πŸ†—


Green Lady Says:

Okie i agree, when it comes to my favorites rivals, i congratulate the player, but i single out the nice posters now, not the bullies or trolls anymore ….


jalep Says:

Commies to ME on Kei’s loss had hoped he could defend his title. He makes me proud but Rafa was too good today…

… which prompts me to give congrats to Tennis-x Rafa fans.


Green Lady Says:

Jalep commies to you lol on Keis loss, but if not for Rafa, i wouldve wanted him to win the title too, but Rafa will always be my number 1 ….


Green Lady Says:

Thankyou Giles ;-)) ….


jalep Says:

Yes, I remember now, Green Lady. thank-you. And, Commies to you too but in a slightly lesser way than to myself – since you are already much happier than me about how Barcelona turned out.

Fognini lost – I wasn’t as happy about that one as you. Who else? Seems like Rafa has taken it to a lot of my favorites lately!!!


Okiegal Says:

Thanks Giles…..can’t wait to see it …..hopefully it will be a go from Tx…..


Green Lady Says:

Jalep cheers, but us Rafa fans, have had a miserable time of it lately, losing to every Tom, Dick and Harry, and Novaks been exceptional for a gazillion tournies, so any loss now is a shock, Rafa winning is now the exception rather than the norm, with Novak losing is the exception rather than the norm, and i like Foggy too ;-)) ….


Green Lady Says:

Anyhow the whole caboodle of top players will be back in Rome so that will be interesting to see, Rafa, Nole, Andy, Stan, Roger ?, Delpo ? ….


J-Kath Says:

So Gals…he is now 2nd in the Year End rankings.
Sleep well tonight.


Jenny Shekersavva Says:

well done nadal congratulations on your win in monte carlo last week and yesterday at Barcelona. lknew you could do it I have faith in you keep up the good work


Okiegal Says:

Thanks, jalep! It has been good to see Rafa coming back and being the competitor he used to be…….so refreshing for his loyal fans……

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