Barcelona - Seven-time winner Rafael Nadal won back-to-back matches to advance to the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open on Friday.
rain forced several third-round matches to be pushed back, Nadal
started the day by beating Benoit Paire of France 7-6 (2), 6-2. The
fifth-ranked Spaniard then defeated Albert Ramos 6-3, 6-0 after his
over-matched opponent had downed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 7-6 (4)
"I played much better in the second match than in the
morning," Nadal said after finishing off Ramos. "Above all in the second
set, when Albert made more mistakes than usual."
Nadal has won 37
straight matches on the red clay at Real Club de Tenis and is on course
to make his sixth straight final this year after returning from a long
He will face either Milos Raonic or Tommy Robredo on Saturday.
responded well to the test of playing two matches in the same day as he
continues to work his way back to full form since he returned in
February from a nagging case of tendinitis in his left knee that had
sidelined him for more than half a year.
The 26-year-old former
No. 1 has impressed since coming back, but his loss to Novak Djokovic
last weekend that ended his eight-year winning run at Monte Carlo
awakened questions of whether he's ready to compete for the much more
grueling French Open next month. Nadal has won at Roland Garros a record
"I got through a complicated day fine," Nadal said.
Earlier, Robredo fought back from a set down to eliminate sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the third round.
The unseeded Robredo hit a winner that clipped the baseline to break Berdych's serve for the fourth time on match point.