Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal sails into semis

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RAFAEL Nadal came through two matches in a few hours to book his place in the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open.

The 26-year-old, a seven-time champion at the claycourt event, posted a 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 win in his rain-delayed match with Benoit Paire of France, and followed up with a routine 6-3, 6-0 victory over fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos in the quarter-finals.

Nadal’s 66-minute dismissal of Ramos – his 37th straight win in Barcelona – was a marked improvement from his rather sluggish start against Paire, and the 11-time grand slam winner now progresses to a last-four clash with Milos Raonic. “I played much better this afternoon than in the morning,” Nadal said on atpworldtour.com. “I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals in a very important tournament.”

Canadian Raonic booked his place in the semi-finals thanks to a 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) win over Tommy Robredo, having earlier seen off Ernests Gulbis in their rain-delayed encounter.

The other semi pits Spain’s Nicolas Almagro against Ger-many’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.