Rafael Nadal will collide with Dominic Thiem Saturday in a mouth-watering semifinal in Barcelona. Nadal reached the final four after a tough 7-5, 7-5 victory over Jan-Lennard Struff.
The 11-time tournament champion broke the German twice in the first and needed just one in the second to get the job done.
“It was a pressure match because he’s a very aggressive player, difficult to be on rhythm with him. I’m happy for the victory, happy to find a way to win that match and I hope to be ready for the semi-finals,” Nadal said. “I’m trying to be focused every single moment because one mistake, and you lose the set against this kind of player. I’m happy the way that I managed it.”
Thiem managed to get through Guido Pella 7-5, 6-2. Nadal leads the Austrian 8-3.
“It’s always one of the biggest challenges possible in tennis to play Rafa on clay, to play him at the tournament which he won already 11 times, with his own crowd in the back, with his Spanish crowd. So it’s going to be unbelievably tough. But we had great matches in the past, and I think we are both playing quite well so I hope that’s the same case tomorrow, and I think we can expect a good match,” Thiem said.
In the other semifinal, Kei Nishikori will meet the surging Daniil Medvedev. Nishikori took care of Spanish hope Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 7-5 while Medvedev racked up his tour-leading 24th win beating Nicolas Jarry 6-3, 6-4.
“I think it was really tough conditions to play. It was dry and windy, so the balls were flying a lot,” Medvedev said. “I needed to win it. I needed to be in the semi-finals. I won it and I’m happy.”
Nishikori has won both from the Russian.
“He’s definitely a tough player,” Nishikori said. “He has a good serve, good reach. He gets many balls. He moves well for his height, so I have to play a lot of good tennis if I want to beat him.”
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