April 28, 2006

Nadal battles back to extend clay winning streak

By Simon Cambers

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal dug deep into his
reserves to extend his winning streak on clay to 45 matches on
Friday with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over Finn Jarkko Nieminen in the
quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open.

The defending champion and top seed battled back from 6-4
4-1 down to set up a semi-final against either 10th seed Juan
Carlos Ferrero or unseeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

The victory moves Nadal to within one of second-placed
Bjorn Borg in the open-era list of most consecutive wins on the
surface, a list headed by Argentine Guillermo Vilas with 53.

Sixth seed Tommy Robredo of Spain will play unseeded Swiss
Stanislas Wawrinka in the second semi-final.

Robredo, who earlier finished off his rain-delayed
third-round match with Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3 2-6 6-2,
followed it up by beating Czech fourth seed Radek Stepanek 6-3

Wawrinka beat unseeded Ivo Karlovic 4-6 6-3 6-4, becoming
the first man to break the Croatian's serve this week.