ATP Barcelona: Thiem tops Pella to set Nadal clash. Medvedev marches on

Tennis - Former champion Kei Nishikori defeated Roberto Carballes Baena to join them in the semis

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Barcelona: Thiem tops Pella to set Nadal clash. Medvedev marches on

The 7th seed and 2019 Tour leader in terms of match wins Daniil Medvedev is through to the fifth semi-final of the season and the second in a row on clay following a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Nicolas Jarry in an hour and 26 minutes.

The Russian landed only 42% of the first serve in but no one could notice that on the court, dropping 16 points in ten service games and fending off both break points he faced to mount the pressure on Jarry who couldn't endure it.

The Chilean had more winners but also much more unforced errors, spraying almost 30 from the forehand wing and getting broken once in each set to end his run in the quarters. Medvedev saved a break point in the opening game of the match with a service winner, moving ahead at 4-3 when Nicolas netted a forehand and sealing the opener with a hold at 15 for a 6-3 after 34 minutes.

At 3-3 in set number two, Daniil created six break chances and converted the last one when Jarry sprayed a forehand long, saving a break point with a powerful serve in the next game and moving over the top with a drop shot winner a 5-4 to reach the semis just like in Monte Carlo.

A former Barcelona finalist Dominic Thiem has finally found the zone on clay in 2019, ousting an in-form Guido Pella 7-5, 6-2 in an hour and 40 minutes after one of the best matches on dirt this season. This was the third consecutive victory for the Austrian over the Argentinian and he forged it after saving three out of four break points, scoring a late break in the opener and dominating in set number two to book the semi-final clash against Rafael Nadal.

Pella served at 70% but lost almost half of the points behind the initial shot to suffer four breaks from nine opportunities given to Thiem. The better-ranked player had 26 winners and 26 unforced errors, leaving Pella on a 14-24 ratio and staying on the title course a month after conquering Indian Wells.

It was a rather slow start for both players but they saved all six break points in the opening three service games before Thiem forced a backhand error from Pella to move 4-3 up. Guido broke back in the very next game with a backhand crosscourt winner, only to get broken again at 5-5 and allow Dominic to claim the opener with a hold at 15 in game 12.

With the momentum on his side, the Austrian moved in front in set number two with a break in game three and forced another error from Guido at 3-1 to extend the gap and get closer to the finish line. Serving for the triumph at 5-2, Thiem hit a service winner to seal the deal and propel himself into the semis, setting another thrilling clay-court clash with Rafael Nadal on Saturday.

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.

Atp Barcelona Kei Nishikori Roberto Carballes Baena