For a second successive match, Rafael Nadal required three sets to win a match at the Barcelona Open. On Thursday, he defeated Kei Nishikori 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and 19 minutes after beating Ilya Ivashka 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday. It marks the first time ever that Nadal has played a deciding set in back-to-back matches in Barcelona. His victory has earned him a quarterfinal clash against unseeded Cameron Norrie.
“I think I played much better than yesterday; that’s a very important thing for me,” Nadal said on court. “The level of positive energy [was] higher, so [I’m] very satisfied.”
Earlier on Thursday, Nadal breezed through the first in just 30 minutes to win it 6-0. A clueless Nishikori got on the scoreboard for 1-1 in the second set. Winning a game helped the Japanese player build the momentum. He won three games in a row to make it 3-1.
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Nishikori, a two-time winner in Barcelona, later earned a double-break en route to sealing the set 6-2. The Japanese player, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2015, was no longer playing cautiously. He was taking the charge to Nadal in the deciding set.
Nadal survived a 0/40 first game scare in the third set before saving more break points (5/5 total in the set). With time, the World No. 3, Nadal, started to find his feet. He then got rewarded with his own break for 3-1 before closing out the set to win the match.
Elsewhere, Cameron Norrie was leading 6-0, 3-5 against David Goffin before the Belgian retired with a right leg injury. Norrie will have to bring his A-game on to produce an upset against Nadal in the next round.