Tennis: Nadal downs Fognini to reach Miami final

Nadal in action against Fabio Fognini of Italy.
Nadal in action against Fabio Fognini of Italy.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Rafael Nadal marched into the final of the Miami Open, where could face rival Roger Federer, with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Italian Fabio Fognini on Friday (March 31).

The unseeded Fognini struggled to get going in the first set which was dominated by fifth-seeded Nadal and over with in 25 minutes.

The Italian, who indicated he had some trouble with his elbow, put up a better response in the second but his work was undone when he double-faulted on break point, leaving the Spaniard to serve out for the win, Nadal will play in his fifth Miami final but will be looking for his first title in the Masters series event.

"I think I played a very good first set," Nadal said.

"He had mistakes obviously. In the second, it was not about losing concentration, it's about not being lucky at the beginning of the second set.

"Normally, I would have a break at the beginning of the second. I had so many chances and then situation changes. When you don't convert opportunities you're in trouble, and that's what happened," he said.

Federer played Australian Nick Kyrgios later on Friday.

The Swiss great beat Nadal in an Australian Open final thriller in January to claim an 18th Grand Slam title and he swept past Nadal in straight sets in the fourth round at Indian Wells this month.

Nadal said he had no preference as to who he would like to face.

"It's great to be in the final for me," he said. "For me doesn't matter the opponent, I am excited to play another final of an important event.

"So if it's Roger, going to be another one for both of us, and that's it. Just another one."

Fognini said the tournament had shown he had the ability to play at the highest level and said his ranking of 40th in the world was a reflection of his injury problems over the past year.

"I had this level. Last year I had really bad injury at the beginning of the year. I finished 40, 45. But I know that with my tennis I can compete at this level.

"It's not the first time that I play matches with Rafa," he added. "Of course this is the best result on hard courts... but it's not a problem about tennis."