Nadal Forced To Rally In Barcelona
Rafael Nadal endured his most serious test of the young clay-court season on Friday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. But the Spaniard fought through – coming back from a break down in the second set – to reach his 11th Barcelona semi-final (11-1 in QF).
The No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings extended his clay-court sets win streak to 42 and his clay-court match-wins streak to 17 against Martin Klizan of Slovakia. Nadal saved three set points in the second set and ousted the left-hander 6-0, 7-5 on Pista Rafa Nadal.
The 31-year-old Spaniard, with a chance to play for his 11th Barcelona title on the line, will next face fourth seed David Goffin, who beat Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-2. Goffin has come back from a set down in all three of his matches this week in Barcelona. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-1, but Goffin won their most-recent contest at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.
Nadal dominated the opener against Klizan, breaking the left-hander three times and dropping only four points on serve (12/16). The Spaniard was racing all over the court and attacking the Slovakian, who had beaten Novak Djokovic and Feliciano Lopez of Spain to make the quarter-finals.
But in the second set, Klizan, a three-time clay-court titlist, found his form, breaking to start and mixing in drop shots against Nadal. At 5-4, Klizan had the set on his racquet.
That alone marked an accomplishment: Not since the 2017 Rome quarter-finals last May, when Dominic Thiem beat Nadal 6-4, 6-3, had someone won so many games against Nadal during a set on clay.
But Klizan couldn't force a decider. Three set points came and went, and Nadal delivered a series of fist pumps and shouts after Klizan lifted a forehand wide on break point. The Spaniard raced through the final two games, prolonging his streaks and his stay in Barcelona.