Nadal on course for eighth Barcelona title

Rafael Nadal is focused on winning an eighth title at the Barcelona Open.

Story highlights

  • Rafa Nadal beats Milos Raonic to reach Barcelona Open final
  • Spaniard will face compatriot Nicolas Almagro in Sunday's final
  • Maria Sharapova will play Li Na in final of WTA event in Stuttgart
Rafael Nadal is closing in on an eighth trophy in nine years at the Barcelona Open after storming past Canada's Milos Raonic 6-4 6-0 in the semifinal on Saturday.
After a four-hour delay for rain, the Spaniard was soon behind as the No.5 seed won an early break.
But Nadal fought back in typically ferocious fashion to take the first set and then overrun Raonic in the second to reach his seventh consecutive final since returning to the ATPTour in February following a knee injury.
"I think it was my best match of the whole week," Nadal said, ATPWorldTour.com reported.
"He played a fantastic second game on the return. I won the third game, which was very important for the match, because if you are 3-love down against a big server like Milos, you're in big trouble."
Nadal will face compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the final at the Real Club de Tenis.
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The No.4 seed had a similarly straightforward semifinal match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, downing the German 6-2 6-1.
"I think I played one of my best matches here in Spain. I felt really good all the time during the match. I'm really happy to be in my first final in Barcelona ... " Almagro said, ATPWorldTour.com reported.
"Every match I play against (Rafa) is fantastic. I'm ready for everything, so we will see what I can do on court."
It is the 20th time the 27-year-old has reached a World Tour final but he has a 0-8 record against Nadal -- the most recent defeat coming at the semifinal of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in February.
Meanwhile at the WTA event in Stuttgart, defending champion Maria Sharapova booked at place in Sunday's final after beating Germany's Angelique Kerber in three sets 6-3 2-6 7-5.
The 26-year-old Russian eventually prevailed in two hours 16 minutes.
After being taken the distance by Lucie Safarova and Ana Ivanovic in the previous two rounds, Sharapova dominated the first set of the semifinal breaking Kerber twice.
But once again Sharapova was pegged back in the second, as the German rallied to take the set comfortably.
The deciding third set was a real battle, as the pair shared five breaks -- the last fell to Sharapova who broke Kerber in the 12th and deciding game.
"All credit to Angelique, she played a great match. I won this tournament last year on the way to the French Open so I am really pleased to get back into the final again," Sharapova said.
Sharapova will play Li Na in Sunday's final.
The World No.5 from China beat America's Bethanie Mattek-Sands in straight sets 6-4 6-3.
Li was victorious in her last meeting with the Russian, winning comfortably, 6-2 6-2 in the semifinal of the Australian Open. But Sharapova holds an 8-5 head-to-head record overall.