After three straight 3-setters for Rafael Nadal, he finally had a easy day on the dirst on Friday, cruising past Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-4 to reach the Barcelona semifinals.
Nadal, who is now two wins from a 12th title at the event, collects his 450th career win on clay and improves to 51-2 lifetime against lefties on his favorite surface.
“I played well at the beginning, especially in the first set. I think I did a lot of things well. Then I stopped myself a little bit. That’s something that cannot happen, especially tomorrow,” Nadal told the crowd.
“I need to hold the level of intensity from the first set, I was able to change direction with my forehand and have most of the points under control. Then the situation was a little bit different, so that’s why I suffered later.”
Nadal will face fellow countryman Pablo Carreno Busta in the semifinals. Carreno Busta came from 2-5 down in the third to deny Diego Schwartzman.
Just 19, Jannik Sinner became the youngest Barcelona semifinalist since Nadal in 2005, after he upset Andrey Rublev 6-2, 7-6(6). Rublev had a set point in the second but the Italian took the last three points of the match.
“I am trying to get better every week,” Sinner said. “He has played many, many matches already this year and I tried to play my tennis. It was difficult to finish it off. I had three break points at 5-5, which I could not convert, but I’m pleased to win in the end. I am getting more experience in every tournament I play.”
Sinner now meets the hot-handed Stefanos Tsitsipas who is now 8-0 on the clay this year (hasn’t dropped a set, 14-0) after rolling past Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3.
“I think my hard efforts paid off,” said Tsitsipas. “I wouldn’t say it was the best start, but I managed to win my serve from 0/40 down. That got me into the match and that helped me to break him at the end. I didn’t panic, but I knew what I was doing. It feels good to be able to play the way I am. I really hope the winning streak continues.”
Tsitsipas and Sinner have split two prior meetings both at Rome in 2019 and 2020.
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