BARCELONA, April 27, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Quarter-final results at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell re-ignited rivalries on Friday, each lending its own interpretation to the movement of the Tour.
Starting the day, Daniil Medvedev and Kei Nishikori set up a semi-final clash against each other after getting the better of lucky losers Nicolas Jarry and Roberto Carballés Baena respectively. The 23-year-old Russian defeated the Chilean 6-3, 6-4 to open the day’s proceedings. The fourth seed from Japan followed suit with a 6-4, 7-5 win over the Spaniard.
Looking forward to their fourth career meeting – with Nishikori leading the head to head 2-1 – each player acknowledged the toughness of the other. During his press conference, the former World No. 4 said of his opponent, “He’s definitely a tough player. He has a good serve, good reach. He gets many balls. He moves well for his height, so I have to play a lot of good tennis if I want to beat him.”
If this were to be considered a rivalry still-in-progress, the face-off in the penultimate round between Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem could be regarded as one that has hit its stride. On Saturday, we will see it extend further after Nadal claimed a hard fought 7-5, 7-5 win in his first meeting against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, and Thiem capped off the day with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Argentine Guido Pella.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 26. April 2019
This will be the 12th meeting between the Spaniard and Austrian, with the former holding a strong win-to-loss ratio of eight to three. Interestingly, all bar one – at the 2018 US Open quarter-final – of their encounters have been on clay, beginning at the 2014 French Open. Within this, again, this will be the duo’s only second clash in Barcelona, coming after the final in 2017. Both players have had ups and downs bracketed between these two wins, what will the semi-final have in store for everyone?
A good match, according to Thiem, who also mentioned, “It’s always one of the biggest challenges possible in tennis to play Rafa on clay, to play him at the tournament which he won already 11 times, with his own crowd in the back, with his Spanish crowd. So, it’s going to be unbelievably tough. But we had great matches in the past, and I think we are both playing quite well so I hope that’s the same case tomorrow.”
More often than not, hopes do come true and we shall see if this adage rings truer on the all-important day.