ATP BARCELONA & BUCHAREST: Nadal stays on the title course, Nishikori and Paire..

Tennis - Guillermo Garcia-Lopez saves 2 match points in Bucharest, keeping his chances alive

by Jovica Ilic
ATP BARCELONA & BUCHAREST: Nadal stays on the title course, Nishikori and Paire..

8th-time champion Rafael Nadal avenged his loss to Fabio Fognini in Barcelona 12 months ago, beating the Italian 6-2 7-6 to reach the semi-final. It was a very solid match, especially in the second set when Fognini fought better than in the first but Nadal prevailed in the end to go through in straight sets.

Nadal's chances of lifting another title in Barcelona is now high, as he never lost a match here after last 4. As was expected, Fognini had the leading role in the most of the points, but he failed to win the most important points and to keep the pressure on Spaniard like in Rio de Janeiro or Barcelona last year.

Nadal took the first set 6-2 in 38 minutes, playing better in deciding points. Both players struggled on their second serve, but Spaniard had the advantage of serving at 80%. Fognini seized the control in the most of the points, but in the end, he had 12 winners and 14 unforced errors, while Nadal stayed at only 2 winners and 5 errors.

The results reached 40-30 in all of the first 4 games, and Nadal came victorious in all of them, building 4-0 lead. After that Fognini broke him at love in game 5 but it was too late to turn the scoreboard, as Nadal converted his 3rd break point in game 8 to win the opener 6-2.

In the second set, players had similar percentages of the first serve in, with Nadal prevailing in the most important points, by only just. He was in control of the result after break in the second game but just like many times in the recent times, Nadal couldn't hold his lead for long.

In the third game, he wasted 40-15 lead to get broken as Fognini get back into the match. Nadal was in even bigger troubles after the 5th game when he again couldn't hold after 40-15, losing his serve for the second time in a row.

Fabio served for the second set at 5-4 but Nadal pulled himself together and made the crucial break to level the score at 5-5. This upset the Italian, who was 0-40 down on his serve in the 12th game but managed to save all 3 match points to reach the tie break.

Nadal stayed calm and grab it convincingly by 7-1 to seal the match. 2nd seed Kei Nishikori is still in position to win his 3rd straight Barcelona title after ousting Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5 6-0. World number 6 played a very solid match, saving all 4 break points (in the single game) he faced and managing to break Dolgopolov's strong resistance at the end of the first set.

It was a high-quality contest between two very talented players with great groundstrokes and they've opened the match with 9 quick and easy holds on both sides, with no deuces or break points. Dolgopolov had a great chance to wrap up the first set, having 4 set points on return in game 10.

Nishikori somehow saved them all to hold in the end and he never looked back, winning the last 9 games of the match! After those chances he missed, Dolgopolov also wasted game point for going 6-5 up, Nishikori broke him and from that moment on, labile Ukrainian simply vanished from the court like many times before.

Dolgopolov won only 8 points on his serve in the second set, losing it in the quickest time possible after being broken 3 times. He once again presented his two different faces, one rock solid in the first 9 games and the dark one in the following 8, making error after error from which Kei took full advantage.

Quarter-final results: [1]Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs [12]Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-2 7-6(1)
[6/WC]Benoit Paire (FRA) vs Malek Jaziri (TUN) 3-6 7-5 6-1
[2]Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs [11]Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) 7-5 6-0 On the next page, Bucharest results.. ALSO READ: WTA STUTTGART AND ISTANBUL- Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova to meet in semifinals

Atp Barcelona Guillermo Garcia-Lopez