April 29, 2006

Nadal reaches final to extend streak to 46

Simon Cambers

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal extended his winning
streak on clay to 46 after he edged out fellow Spaniard Nicolas
Almagro 7-6 6-3 on Saturday to reach the final of the Barcelona

The top seed and defending champion, who will meet
compatriot Tommy Robredo in the showpiece match, is now joint
second with Bjorn Borg in the Open-era list for consecutive
wins on the surface.

Robredo beat unseeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4 6-4 in
the first semi-final.

The 19-year-old Nadal, whose unbeaten run on clay stretches
back to April 2005, was pushed hard in the first set by the
hard-hitting Almagro, who had upset Juan Carlos Ferrero and
Guillermo Coria to reach the last four.

Nadal bagged the first-set tiebreak 7-2 and then stepped up
a gear. He broke for 4-2 in the second set and held on to reach
his third final of the year.

Sixth seed Robredo overcame a late wobble to reach the
final for the second time in three years.

The Spaniard, champion in 2004, wrapped up victory over the
world number 67 in 87 minutes to reach his first final of the

After edging the first set, Robredo broke twice to lead 5-2
in the second but wasted four match points as Wawrinka hit

Robredo made no mistake second time round, serving out to

"I think it is easy to prepare for playing someone like
Nadal," Robredo said.

"I know how to play (Roger) Federer, Nadal, all the
players, but you have to be able to get to the court and do it,
and they have to let you do it.

"I am playing very well every day, at the same level. I
know that I won't play worse tomorrow but I have to try to play
even better.

"I will just play my game. If I play my game and I win then
I will be very proud. If I play my game and it is not enough
then I will still be proud but will work for the future."