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Rafael Nadal advances to his 10th Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final.

Nadal Will Play For 10th Barcelona Title

Spaniard will face Thiem in Sunday's final

Ten tournament titles was so nice Rafael Nadal might have to do it twice.

A week after becoming the first man in the Open Era (since April 1968) to win a tournament 10 times, Rafael Nadal will have a chance to repeat the feat on Sunday during the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final. The Spaniard advanced to his 10th Barcelona title match on Saturday evening, beating Argentine Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 34 minutes.

The conditions were tricky, very windy, and Horacio is a tough opponent who has a style that suits clay. He serves well, creates great angles... He has been feeling better and better,” Nadal said. 

The 30-year-old Nadal has now won nine consecutive matches and is 19-1 in his past 20 sets. He's yet to drop a set this week in Barcelona. The Spaniard will go for his 71st tour-level title and his 51st clay-court crown against fourth seed Dominic Thiem, who upset World No. 1 Andy Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in Saturday's earlier semi-final. Fans can listen to the final ball by ball on Tennis Radio or watch it on TennisTV.

“It’s not a surprise that Dominic is in the final. He is one of the best in the world, and he loves clay. At the beginning of the tournament, he was already one of the main favourites to be in the final,” Nadal said. “He is a player with a lot of power. He imposes a lot on his shots, and if you let him be comfortable, it’s almost impossible to stop him. It’s going to be a difficult match, the type of match where either you play great or you won’t win.”

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Nadal, who 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.

Zeballos was trying to reach his third career ATP World Tour final and his first since Vina del Mar in 2013, when he beat then-World No. 5 Nadal in the final. But Nadal was decidedly too much for the Argentine on Saturday.

The Spaniard dominated the first set, winning 81 per cent of his service points and erasing all three break points. Nadal faced trouble late in the opener, serving at 5-3, when Zeballos ripped a backhand pass to earn two break points at 15/40.

But Nadal saved the first break point with an aggressive forehand volley putaway. The Spaniard attacked the net often under pressure during the semi-final, winning eight of his 13 net trips. A mishit backhand from Zeballos put the game at deuce, and Nadal would later hold to win the first set.

Zeballos regrouped well in the second set, though, holding serve until 4-4 when a double fault from the Argentine gave Nadal his fourth break point of the set. Serving at 30/40, Zeballos missed a forehand, and Nadal had the only break he would need in the second set. The Spaniard erased all five break points for the match.

Mergea/Qureshi Survive SF Test

Florin Mergea and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi edged Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 6-3, 5-7, 14-12 to reach their first ATP World Tour final as a team. The Romanian-Pakistani duo needed seven match points to prevail. They will face Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya for the title in Barcelona on Sunday. Individually, Mergea will be vying for his seventh doubles title in his 15th final, while Qureshi is bidding for his 13th title in his 29th final.

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