Nishikori sets up Nadal final in Barcelona

Two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori will face former eight-time champion Rafael Nadal in a mouth-watering Barcelona Open final on Sunday.

Japanese star Nishikori was the first to advance on Saturday after beating Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-2, extending his unbeaten run at the tournament to 14 matches.

Paire has twice beaten Nishikori this year, but the 26-year-old was able to exact his revenge on this occasion, firing 15 winners and converting five break points to control the match from start to finish.

Paire did manage one break of serve of his own to draw level in the second set, having just conceded a break a game earlier, but Nishikori responded with another break immediately and never looked back from there.

Paire also had a poor day at the office, making 27 unforced errors to compound his woes.

“I played very aggressively, especially attacking his second serve," Nishikori said. "I stepped in more today. I will try to watch a little bit of the other semi-final to prepare well for tomorrow."

Awaiting him in the final is a resurgent Nadal, who continued his faultless progress this week with a straight sets victory over Germany's Phillip Kohlschreiber.


The Spaniard converted three of eight break points, while saving the only break point he faced, to consign his opponent to a routine 6-3, 6-3 defeat in 93 minutes.

Nadal is chasing his second consecutive ATP Tour title, following his triumph in Monte Carlo last week.

While he boasts an 9-1 record over Nishikori, he knows he faces a tough task in toppling the two-time champion.

“I will have to play my best,” he said.