Classy Nadal earns Fognini revenge in Barcelona


Rafael Nadal earned a measure of revenge over Fabio Fognini with a classy 6-2 7-6 (7-1) quarter-final victory at the Barcelona Open on Friday.

World number five Nadal, dubbed the 'King of Clay', was knocked out in round three by Fognini 12 months ago in his worst showing in the tournament in 12 years.

But the Spaniard - victor at the Monte Carlo Masters this month - was at his majestic best in the first set and held off a resurgent Fognini in the second to move into the semi-finals. 

Nadal came flying out of the blocks and a poor Fognini drop-shot saw him wrest the initiative, before a long baseline forehand from his opponent opened up a 4-0 lead.

Fognini rallied with a break to love and his first fold, but normal service soon resumed and Nadal saw out the opening set in 39 minutes.

Nadal endured a surprising slump in the second set and found himself a break down at 4-2, before recovering in game 10 when Fognini failed to serve out for the set.

Three match points went begging in game 12, but Nadal quickly recovered to race through the tie-break and he remains on course for a ninth title in Barcelona.

On the other side of the draw, two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori was also in impeccable form with a 7-5 6-0 beating of Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Nishikori has won 13 straight matches in Barcelona and the Japanese remains on course for a mouth-watering final against Nadal.

But first he faces Benoit Paire in the semi-finals, the Frenchman fought back from a first-set blip to beat Malek Jaziri 3-6 7-5 6-1.