Nadal, Nishikori battle in Barca final

Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori will both aim for records in the final of the Barcelona Open after the pair of showcase seeds produced straight-set semi-final wins.

Top seed Nadal beat German Philipp Kohlschreiber for the 12th time in 13 meetings, posting a 6-3 6-3 victory on Saturday to stand on the verge of a record ninth title in the Catalan capital as well as a possible record-tying 49th clay trophy.

Nadal is placed one spot behind the all-time record of clay honours held by Guillermo Vilas from three decades ago.

Nishikori, winner of the last two Barcelona editions and seeded second, claimed his 14th straight match at the Real Club de Tenis in quick-fire style, taking 66 minutes to eliminate Benoit Paire 6-3 6-2.

If he wins his third straight title, world No.6 Nishikori would join Nadal and Mats Wilander as the only men to have produced three in a row at the event.

Nadal and Nishikori are both into their third finals of the season and are also set to play their second final in succession.

Nadal won Monte Carlo last weekend while Nishikori lost the Miami final to Novak Djokovic, the last event he played prior to Spain.

Nadal spent 91 minutes in handing Kohlschreiber a fifth loss on clay in their series. The German was plagued by 37 unforced errors while Nadal thrilled his home fans with 18 winners and three breaks of serve.

“I’m just glad to be in the final,” Nadal said. “I’m playing well this week.

“I really get the support when I play here in Spain, it helps so much.

“I’ll need more of it for this final. I’ll be preparing as best I can for a tough one.”

Nishikori totally dominated Paire and ended a two-match loss streak from last autumn against the French sixth seed.

Paire fought to save four match points in the final game but went down to defeat on Nishikori’s fifth with a volley error.

“He can be on and off his game,” Nishikori said.

“He’s got a great backhand and serve, but he was not making many first serves today.

“I tried to step in and attack his second serve. I was a little shaky in the second set but I’m happy to win and reach another final.

“I love Spain and always feel very comfortable playing in Barcelona.

“I’ve had good luck for the last two years and hope for more of the same in the final.”

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