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Nadal, Ferrer to meet in fourth Barcelona final


BARCELONA – Rafael Nadal crushed Fernando Verdasco for the 13th time in his career on Saturday to set up a fourth Barcelona Open final with long-time rival David Ferrer.

The Sunday showdown will be a repeat of the 2008, 2009 and 2011 finals which were all won by Nadal.

French Open champion Nadal, who is fresh from winning an unprecedented eighth straight title at Monte Carlo last weekend, overwhelmed Verdasco 6-0, 6-4 in just 85 minutes with four breaks of serve.

Third seed Ferrer had a tougher afternoon, requiring just over two hours in defeating huge-serving Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5).

“I’m very happy to reach a fourth final. It’s a very special relationship I have with this tournament,” said Ferrer, who had said this week it would be the culmination of his career to lift the trophy.

“I hope I can finally fulfill my dream of finally winning here.”

Nadal has dominated the Barcelona event, winning six titles in seven previous appearances. On the one occasion he didn’t play — he missed 2010 with knee problems — Verdasco took the honours.

Nadal’s victory was his 38th winning semi-final in a row on clay, with his last loss coming against Carlos Moya in August 2003.

Raonic had turned in a breakthrough week on the clay of the Real Club de Tenis, winning all of his matches in straight sets.

He defeated Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and upset second-seeded, world number four Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.

“It was very tough to beat Raonic,” said Ferrer. “We each had chances but it came down to winning on the key points. He has a huge forehand and he’s very difficult to break.”

The 21-year-old, ranked 25th, threatened early in the opening set against Ferrer but could not convert on four break chances.

Raonic saved six set points before Ferrer finally clinched it in the tiebreaker from the Canadian’s netted forehand.

In the second set, the pair stayed on level-pegging, with Raonic saving the lone break points of the set in the 11th game.

In the tie-breaker, Raonic salvaged a match point as a return caught the line. But Ferrer advanced on his second opportunity from a Raonic error.

“I felt I played very well on the clay this week. I had some very good sensations,” said Raonic. “I’m ready for my next objective, Madrid (from next weekend).

“But he was too good when it mattered, that’s what makes him a great player who has beaten me every time we’ve played.”

Ferrer improved to 28-4 this season with three titles.


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