Seeking the 12th Barcelona Open final, Rafael Nadal faces a compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta in the semi-final clash. Nadal has beaten Pablo in the previous seven encounters and will be the favorite in this one as well, never losing a set to Pablo on the slowest surface.
In the quarters, Carreno Busta battled past Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 after two and a half hours, trailing 5-2 in the decider before rattling off five straight games for a great escape and a chance to play against the 20-time Major champion.
On the other hand, Rafa played well against Cameron Norrie, beating the Briton 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 34 minutes and raising his level in comparison to the previous two matches in Barcelona. In Parisa last year, Carreno Busta threw everything at Nadal to challenge him for two sets before Rafa prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in an hour and 13 minutes for the place in the semis.
Pablo gave his best to control the pace and hit as many winners as possible, counting to around 30 but at the cost of 45 unforced mistakes. Nadal saved four out of five break chances and produced three breaks when it mattered the most to pass another obstacle on the title course.
It was a slow start for Rafa, who had no idea how to solve the rival's serve in the opener, taking only five points in the return games and spraying a forehand error in game seven to fall behind.
Pablo Carreno Busta called Rafael Nadal the greatest player of all time on clay.
They stayed neck and neck until the second set's 12th game when Nadal grabbed a crucial break that gave him the set and momentum.
The more experienced Spaniard had the upper hand in the decider, serving well and earning two breaks before sealing the deal with a forehand down the line winner in game seven to march into the last four. "Rafa Nadal is the greatest clay-courter ever.
He has a forehand that leaves you on the floor. If you let him start dictating the rally, you are finished. Tomorrow, I'm experiencing the toughest test that you can get on clay. I will try to enjoy the moment and play aggressive tennis, like in our last meeting in Paris 2020," Pablo Carreno Busta said.