Rafael Nadal survives another three-set match to beat Kei Nishikori at Barcelona Open
The Spaniard, 11-time champion at the clay-court tournament, will face Britain’s Norrie in the quarter-finals
Rafael Nadal survived another three-set match to beat Kei Nishikori 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 Thursday at the Barcelona Open.
The 11-time tournament champion looked ready for a quick victory after dominating the first set, but Nishikori responded with some fine net play to level it at 1-1.
Nadal broke Nishikori – who won the tournament in 2014 and 2015 – twice in the decisive set, converting his second match point by driving a forehand winner down the line.
The top-seeded Nadal is still searching for his best tennis after being knocked-out in the Monte Carlo quarter-finals by Andrey Rublev. He needed three sets to beat 111th-ranked Ilya Ivashka of Belarus in his first match in Barcelona on Wednesday.
“I think I played much better than yesterday, that’s a very important thing for me,” Nadal said on court. “The level of positive energy [was] higher, so [I’m] very satisfied.”
Nadal will face Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the quarter-finals. Norrie advanced after David Goffin retired in the second set of their match due to injury.
The Belgian eighth seed received lengthy treatment for an apparent problem with his right leg/hip after seven games of the second set and, despite winning the next game, decided to call it a day trailing 6-0 3-5.
British No 2 Norrie had been dominant in the opening set and, although it was not the way he would have wanted to progress, it counts as a seventh victory over a top-20 player in his career, three of which have come this season. The result could be enough to take the 25-year-old back into the top 50.
Stefanos Tsitsipas extended his straight-sets winning streak to seven after beating Australia's Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-3 in 84 minutes.
The Greek No 2 seed, who won the Monte Carlo Masters without dropping a set, will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the next round.
Earlier in the day, Canadian Auger-Aliassime defeated countryman Denis Shapovalov 6-2, 6-3. “I was happy with my level today,” said Auger-Aliassime. “It’s never easy to play against him and it’s great to have won in straight sets. The next match won’t be easy, a tough challenge.”
Third seed Andrey Rublev earned his spot in the quarter-finals but was far from convincing in his 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 victory over Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
The Russian was unhappy with his opening-round win over Italian lucky loser Federico Gaio and admitted he was still struggling. “Nothing has changed, I didn’t learn my lessons," he said. "The most important thing is that I managed to win today. When you’re not doing something correctly, but you’re still winning matches, it gives you confidence.
He will take on 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the next round after the Italian teenager defeated Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut with a 7-6, 6-2.
Fourth seed Diego Schwartzman also won in straight-sets, defeating Corentin Moutet of France 6-4, 6-2.
Updated: April 22, 2021 10:25 PM