Nadal one win from 10th title
BARCELONA: Rafael Nadal moved to within one win of a 10th Barcelona title on Saturday when he swept past Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals of the clay court event.
World No 5 Nadal, who captured a 10th Monte Carlo Masters last weekend, faced Dominic Thiem in the final late yesterday after the Austrian stunned World No 1 Andy Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.
Nadal, 30, who played in his 106th career final yesterday, won the Barcelona title in 2005-09, 2011-13 and 2016.
Despite his straight sets win, on a centre court which is named after him, Nadal was far from pleased with his week’s work in the Catalan capital where rain has made the conditions heavy.
“In weeks like this, the one who manages to cope with the conditions we’ve had, which have been significantly different (than normal), is the one that survives,” said the Spaniard.
“They aren’t the best conditions for me and against Zeballos it wasn’t easy at all.
“He took me out of my comfort zone, particularly in the first few shots of the rally which is what did damage.”
Thiem fired 41 winners and six aces as the fourth seed advanced to his 12th ATP World Tour final with a first win over Murray.
“It’s the first win over a World No 1, so it’s really something special,” said Thiem.
“For me personally, it’s the best victory this year so far.
“I went down in the third set when he broke me in the first game. But the way I came back mentally was a huge step forward today.”
Murray squeezed past Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a three-hour encounter on Friday and looked flat-footed as Thiem roared through the opening set with three breaks of serve in just over half an hour.
However, having accepted a late wildcard to play in Barcelona, Murray believes the match practice will do him good with Masters series events in Madrid and Rome to come ahead of next month’s French Open. AFP