Unstoppable Nadal into Barcelona final with 400th clay court win
Rafael Nadal racked up the 400th clay court victory of his career on Saturday as he swept past Belgium’s David Goffin 6-4, 6-0 to reach the Barcelona final and stand just one win from an 11th title in the Spanish city.
World number one Nadal also extended his winning streak on clay to 44 consecutive sets as he downed Goffin for a third time in three meetings on the red dirt surface he has dominated for more than a decade.
In Sunday’s final, the 31-year-old Spaniard, fresh from an 11th Monte Carlo title last weekend, will face Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Nadal slipped a break down at 0-2 to fourth seed Goffin in the first set on Saturday but that was the only blip on his afternoon.
Goffin saved two match points in the sixth game of the second set but a weary forehand went long on the third and Nadal celebrated with fists punched to the sky.
Tsitsipas, 19 years old and ranked 63, continued his magical run at the event reaching a first ATP final with a 7-5, 6-3 win over fifth-seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
The last Greek to make an ATP final was Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in Des Moines back in 1973.
Tsitsipas is the youngest Barcelona finalist since Nadal in 2005.
Win or lose on Sunday, Tsitsipas will become the first Greek player to break into the world top 50 when the latest men’s rankings are released on Monday.
The fast-rising Greek stunned third-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem on Friday 6-3, 6-2.
That was his second win over a top 10 player — Thiem is seventh in the world — following victory over Goffin during his best previous run to the semi-finals in Antwerp last October.
Yet to drop a set this week, Tsitsipas served five aces and won 78 percent of first serves to see off his Spanish rival in one hour 35 minutes.