Two Obstacles Remain For Nadal

Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Spain

[9] Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs. [91] Yuichi Sugita (JPN)

The Japanese lucky loser had an amazing run, taking out Richard Gasquet and Pablo Carreno Busta before falling easily today to the Austrian.  He was no match for the powerful backhand of Thiem.  He also looked a little fatigued, perhaps playing so well for so many consecutive days finally caught up to him.  Thiem won easily 6-1, 6-2 and he became the first semifinalist.

Next up was [1] Andy Murray (GBR) vs.  [19] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP).  This was a rematch of last week’s R16 in Monte Carlo.  Murray was up 4-0 in the final set before it all went awry.  Today was a different story, Ramos-Vinolas won the first set easily and felt the nerves in the second to lose his serve in the last game and lose the set.  This time it was the Spaniard who cracked from a winning position.  He served for the match and could not close it out.  The pressure got to him as it has been doing whenever he got a critical lead and today he could not recover.  Murray won 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(4).

Then it was the king of clay’s turn.  [5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [94] Hyeon Chung (KOR).  I have watched enough tennis to know that as a top ranked player you should never underestimate your opponents; therefore, I was curious to see how Nadal responded to this young talent.  There was some added psychological tension given his opponent was ten years younger and as the king of clay, Nadal was expected to win easily.  Despite the score, it was not an easy victory. Nadal raised his game when it was crucial and won 7-6(1), 6-2.

The last singles match of the day featured [56] Karen Khachanov (RUS) vs. [84] Horacio Zeballos (ARG).  Zeballos won because he was the more experienced player and mentally more solid when it mattered. Khachanov was in the match in the first set; however, a minor stumble at the end of the set and he lost the set along with his focus.  He had a blister on his right foot that may have been an issue in the second set; however, it was more frustration at losing the first set that distracted him. Zeballos won 6-4, 6-1. Next up is Nadal, a player he defeated the last time they played (2013). Can he do so again or will Nadal exact revenge for that loss?

SOURCE OF IMAGES: Getty Images/Bing search

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