In April, Rafael Nadal advanced to his 12th Barcelona Open final following a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Pablo Carreno Busta in an hour and 28 minutes. It was Nadal's 65th victory from 69 Barcelona matches, looking good on the court and setting the clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Rafa lost serve once and grabbed four breaks to control the scoreboard and find himself in the first ATP final of the season. Rafa landed an ace in the first game to get his name on the scoreboard and forced Pablo's forehand error in the next one to grab an early break and build the advantage.
Carreno Busta missed another forehand in game three, sending Rafa 3-0 up and having to raise his level if he wanted to challenge a great rival. He placed a backhand crosscourt winner in game four to avoid a bagel before Nadal fired a service winner for a hold at love a few minutes later.
Rafa secured another break in game six to move closer to the finish line before playing a loose service game and hand a break to Carreno Busta.
Rafael Nadal ousted Pablo Carreno Busta in the Barcelona Open semi-final.
The younger Spaniard reduced the deficit to 3-5 in game eight with an ace and created three break chances in the next one that could have turned the scoreboard around.
Staying focused despite an evident struggle in those moments, Rafa saved them and closed the set on his second opportunity when Pablo sprayed a backhand mistake. Carried by this momentum, Nadal secured a break at the beginning of the second set and took four straight points on serve in game two to confirm the advantage and move closer to the finish line.
Pablo wasted game chances to lose serve in the third game when his backhand found the net to drift further away from a positive result. Nadal held at love with a service winner to take complete control and march towards win.
Carreno Busta avoided a bagel with an unreturned serve in game five and painted a backhand down the line winner at 1-5 to prolong the encounter. That was all we saw from him, though, as Rafa held with an ace a few minutes later to seal the deal and advance into the final.