The 4th seed and a two-time Barcelona champion Kei Nishikori stands still as well, beating a lucky loser Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 7-5 in challenging an hour and 53 minutes. The Japanese had more winners but also more errors in a tight encounter, fending off all four break points and delivering one break in each set to move inside the semis where he will face Daniil Medvedev for the fourth time.
Kei broke at 15 in the first game of the match and saved a couple of break points at 5-4 to close the opener, having a massive chance to open the gap in the second set too. Carballes Baena did his best to spoil those plans, repelling eight break points in the opening three service games and even creating his chance at 4-3, with Nishikori saving both to level the score at 4-4.
The Japanese finally broke at 5-5 with a forehand winner and the win was in his hands after a hold at 15, staying focused despite a medical timeout that his rival had to ask for after suffering a groin injury in game 11. "Everything worked well for me in the opening set, hitting big forehands and taking advantage of his little bit shorter balls.
Roberto started playing better in the second set, I think those numerous break points he saved gave him confidence, starting to play better and with more aggression. I was able to play well in the crucial moments and it was very good tennis in the last two games.
Mentally it wasn't easy to waste those eight break points and fail to break after being 40-0 up twice but I knew I was playing well and that I just have to maintain that level and not go backward. Daniil is a very tough player to beat, his serve and reach are great, also moving well, having the edge in those longer rallies.
I will have to be aggressive and bring solid tennis if I want to win. I'm confident at the moment, playing good tennis overall and doing some damage with my return and forehand that works well on clay, I'm happy with the level of my groundstrokes at the moment.
Medvedev is dangerous on every surface, has great serve and penetrates the ball hard, it's not easy to score a winner against him also thanks to his movement. It's not easy to play against him, even on clay. Two wins I scored against him will help me, I never played Roberto Carballes Baena before and it wasn't easy as I didn't know who he would play. I know Daniil's game and will have to step up to beat him."