Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal one match from equaling clay-court record

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Rafael Nadal defeats Philipp Kohlschreiber at Barcelona Open

Spaniard to face Kei Nishikori in Sunday's final

CNN  — 

Rafael Nadal continued his flawless start to the European clay-court season by beating Philipp Kohlschreiber to book his place in the Barcelona Open final Saturday.

Nadal eased his German opponent aside 6-3 6-3 in one hour and 32 minutes.

The victory means the Nadal is now just one win away from equaling Guillermo Vilas’ record of 49 career clay-court titles.

But the 14-time grandslam winner will come up against another consummate clay-court performer in the shape of Kei Nishikori in Sunday’s final.

Nishikori is on a 14-match winning streak on the Barcelona mud having won back-to-back titles there in 2014 and 2015.

The Japanese player swept aside French sixth-seed, Benoit Paire, in Saturday’s other semifinal 6-3 6-2.

“It will be a very difficult match against one of the best players in the world without doubt,” Nadal told Spanish TV station Teledeporte in comments later carried by the AFP news agency.

“I have to be prepared and give my best,” he added.

Nadal was triumphant at the Monte Carlo Masters last weekend and required just one break to take the first set against Kohlschreiber Saturday.

He had to be patient at the start of the second set but eventually broke twice as he took the last four games to close out the match.

“Of my last six matches perhaps it was the one where I had least rhythm,” added Nadal.

“I missed a lot more on my backhand, but I overcame that well and (am) very happy to be in the final again.”

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