BARCELONA, April 29, 2017
For the first time since 2009, three of the top four seeds appeared in the semi-finals at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Saturday.
Rafael Nadal emerged victorious from the all-left-handers-battle with Argentine Horacio Zeballos, winning 6-3, 6-4. The third seed from Spain saved all five break points he faced, converting two of his own to advance to his 10th Barcelona title match in one hour and 34 minutes.
“I am happy to have reached the final. They are not the best conditions for me. Horacio didn’t make it easy for me today. I was a out of position, especially in the first two strokes of each. That made me struggle a bit,” Nadal told.
Nadal will be playing in his 106th career final, has won Barcelona crowns in 2005-09, 2011-13 and 2016. He improved to 52-3 lifetime at the ATP World Tour 500 event.
Nadal will take on Dominic Thiem, who knocked out World No. 1 Andy Murray with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win. In the pair’s third tour meeting, the 23-year-old Austrian won 71 per cent of his first service points and 53 per cent of the total points played to prevail in two hours and 15 minutes.
“I have been lucky in the end, but Murray is the number one in the world and I had to look for the victory by all means possible. I think I’ve been aggressive and made few mistakes. I’ve been combining my shots a lot because if you always hit the same ball, he will not have any problems. I think it has been a great triumph,” said Thiem.
Nadal leads 2-1 in head-to-head records over the Austrian. Their last meeting took place in Monte Carlo last year. Nadal won in straight sets.