Rafael Nadal on Friday extended his astonishing winning run on clay to 42 consecutive sets as he reached the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open with a 6-0, 7-5 victory over Slovakia’s Martin Klizan.
The defending champion was to face David Goffin yesterday, after the Belgian beat Spaniard Roberto Bautista 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-2.
Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas also reached the last four after overwhelming third seed Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-2. The 19-year-old was next to face Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, who served up another upset by defeating second seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
World No. 140 Klizan, who had knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round, came within a point of being the first player since Thiem in May last year to win a set against the Mallorcan on the slow surface, but the world No. 1’s famed battling skills denied him that moment of glory.
After romping through the opening set, Nadal lost his focus and surrendered his serve at the start of the second set, but just as Klizan appeared to be on the verge of delivering a psychological blow, the 10-time Barcelona champion saved the set point at 4-5 down before breaking back to level.
He held in the next game to take the lead for the first time in the second set and then broke a tired Klizan to clinch his place in the semis.
“He played very aggressively and caused me a lot of discomfort... He was unpredictable and that caused me confusion,” Nadal told a news conference. “It was tough, but the important thing was not to fail.”
Tsitsipas converted four out of eight break points and made Thiem pay for an error-strewn display to secure the biggest win of his career.
Thiem began the contest strongly and came within a point of going up 3-0 in the opening set, but allowed Tsitsipas to fight back. The Greek won a decisive break to go ahead at 5-3 after a double fault by Thiem and then served out the set.
Tsitsipas broke at 2-2 in the second set after more wayward hitting by Thiem and the world No. 63 pulled away to seal the match.
Fifth seed Carreno Busta saw off Dimitrov to reach his second semi-final of the year and level his head-to-head with the Bulgarian at three wins apiece.
Aljaz Bedene on Friday overcame a mid-match blip to beat Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 and advance to the semi-finals of the Hungarian Open.
“I’m fighting, that’s the most important thing,” fifth seed Bedene said after reaching his sixth tour-level semi-final.
The world No. 57 will next take on Australia’s John Millman or Yannick Maden. Millman was ahead 2-6, 6-1, 5-4 when play was suspended due to darkness.
Italy’s Andreas Seppi, seeking his first title since 2012, fought past a determined Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) in another quarter-final earlier in the day.
“I think I played a solid match. I was very focused,” Seppi said. “I played very well in the important moments.”
The world No. 55 was next to meet compatriot Marco Cecchinato. The lucky loser advanced to the last four after upsetting seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
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