Tennis: Nishikori battles into Barcelona semis

Nishikori (above) was a winner in Barcelona in 2014 and 2015.
Nishikori (above) was a winner in Barcelona in 2014 and 2015.PHOTO: ZUMA WIRE/DPA

BARCELONA (AFP) - Japan's two-time Barcelona Open champion Kei Nishikori won a clay slugfest with Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 7-5 on Friday (April 26) to move into the semi-finals for a fourth time.

Nishikori will take on Russian Daniil Medvedev on Saturday after the seventh seed stopped lucky loser Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-3, 6-4.

Nishikori, the winner here in 2014 and 2015, served out victory after his 104th-ranked opponent slipped in the penultimate game and appeared to strain a right thigh muscle.

Carballes Baena took an injury time out before returning to court as Nishikori wrapped up the win, his 16th of the season.

The contest quickly turned into a series of pounding groundstrokes from both players, Nishikori striking first when he broke in the opening game - enough to claim the first set.

But Carballes Baena struck back in the second, with Nishikori missing on eight break point chances in his opponent's first three service games.

Fourth seed Nishikori finally broke for 6-5 though as Carballes Baena suffered his mishap.

The win was the 22nd here for Nishikori, who has won two of his three matches against Medvedev, including the Brisbane final in January.

Rafael Nadal continues his bid for a record 12th Barcelona title in a quarter-final against German Jan-Lennard Struff.