Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal and 2-time defending Barcelona winner Kei Nishikori continued on their collision course to a Sunday showdown today in quarterfinal play.
Nadal resumed his recent resurgent beating the tricky Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2, 7-6(1). It was the Spaniard’s eighth straight match win.
“It was a match on a really high level. Great win against one of the best players on clay in straight sets. I can’t complain,” said Nadal.
“I’m trying to play better every day. I do not compare myself to anyone and do not think about past achievements or victories. What matters is today and that is what I am focusing on.”
Fognini, who beat the King of Clay in Barcelona a year ago, led 5-3 in the second but couldn’t put Nadal away.
“This year things are a little different, I am accepting every situation and I don’t have the feeling of being constantly nervous,” Nadal said of overcoming the second set deficit.
Next for Nadal is a Saturday semifinal date with German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Kei Nishikori ran his Barcelona win streak to 13 after dispatching Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5, 6-0 in his quarterfinal match. Nishikori now faces Frenchman Benoit Paire who came from a set down to beat Malek Jaziri. Paire stunned Nishikori at the US Open last year.
“I lost against Paire twice last year and he is also a great player and I am sure it is going to be tough,” said Nishikori. “I think I am a little bit better than last year and it is going to be a different game on clay.”
In Bucharest, semifinal Saturday features Federico Delbonis against Lucas Pouille and Fernando Verdasco versus Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
SATURDAY BARCELONA SCHEDULE
PISTA CENTRAL start 1:30 pm
 [WC] B. Paire (FRA) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
Not Before 4:00 pm
 R. Nadal (ESP) vs  P. Kohlschreiber (GER)
[WC] P. Cuevas (URU) / M. Granollers (ESP) vs F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP)
PISTA 1 start 3:00 pm
T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) vs  B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA)
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