The 11-time Barcelona Open champion Rafael Nadal advanced to the semi-final following a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Cameron Norrie in an hour and 34 minutes. After the quarter-final loss to Andrey Rublev last week and two shaky performances versus Ilya Ivashka and Kei Nishikori in the previous rounds in Barcelona, Rafa played well against the Briton, especially in the opening set.
After the match, the Spaniard went straight to the practice court with his coach Carlos Moya, working on his groundstrokes for additional 15 minutes before heading for the press conference. Nadal hit 22 winners and 17 unforced errors, delivering his 64th Barcelona triumph from 68 encounters at one of his favorite events!
Rafa lost serve once and earned four breaks that carried him home, facing Pablo Carreno Busta in an all-Spanish semi-final clash. Nadal needed 40 minutes to seal the opening set, serving well and stealing the rival's serve twice for 6-1.
The crowd favorite closed the third game with a service winner and stole Cameron's serve a few minutes later to gain the advantage. The Spaniard hit a service winner to open a 4-1 gap and seized the fourth break chance in the next one to move further in front.
Nadal closed the opener with a hold at love in game seven and placed a perfect forehand return winner in the second set's third game for a break at love that pushed him closer to the finish line. From 30-0 down in game four, Rafa won four straight points to avoid troubles and keep the serve intact, finishing it with an ace.
Rafael Nadal practiced after beating Cameron Norrie in Barcelona on Friday.
Creating a break chance at 4-2, Nadal failed to seize it after a poor bounce, missing the entire ball keeping Cameron within one break deficit.
Out of a sudden, the Spaniard played some loose strokes in game eight and experienced two break points, repelling them with winners before Cameron converted the third to level the score at 4-4. Staying calm, Rafa grabbed a break at love a few minutes later and sealed the deal with a forehand winner in game ten to reach the last four.
"After the match, I've gone to the practice court to work on my groundstrokes a bit because that Norrie encounter didn't last for long. I was feeling well and wanted to go and let the arm free a bit," Rafael Nadal said.