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Barcelona Open: Nadal's clay-court joy continues

Top-seeded Spanish teenager defeated Almagro 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 to reach his second straight final at Barcelona Open.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2006 14:01 IST

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal defeated Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 to reach a second straight final at the 2.08-million-euro Barcelona Open.

The Spanish teenager will play for the title at the Real Club de Tenis, facing compatriot Tommy Robredo, the sixth seed who won the event in 2004, the year before Nadal broke through for a trophy of his own.

With this victory, he has pulled level on 46 straight clay-court wins with Swedish Bjorn Borg.

However, Nadal is only concentrating on taking another trophy, not on how he is doing in the record books. "The record is nice, but it is not my main concern - I want to win this title again."

The 19-year-old French Open champion says it is too early to compare him to Borg, a legend. "We may have the same number of wins," he said of the 49-year-old Swede. "But he made tennis history, and he won five Wimbledons. I am still learning."

Meanwhile, Robredo had to battle past a late challenge from Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka Saturday, earning a 6-4, 6-4 despite wasting four match points while serving for victory leading 5-2 in the second set.

The Swiss challenger took his chances, holding in the next game but eventually going out in just over 90 minutes as Robredo moved through.

Robredo broke Wawrinka five times and lost his own serve on three occasions.

Robredo improved to 2-0 over Wawrinka, whom he beat on carpet in Basel two years ago. Robredo now stands 14-11 this season after a recent surge of form, which also included last week's Monte Carlo quarterfinals.

With victory in the final, Nadal will pass Borg to stand second in the record books behind Argentine Guillermo Vilas, who clocked 53 straight clay victories in the spring and summer of 1977.

Nadal has beaten Robredo both times they have met. But that does not dismay the older challenger. "I know how to win, you have to go and execute," said Robredo.

"I will have to play my game. I have won a title here already. I certainly will not be as nervous as I was in my first final."

Against the 20-year-old Amagro, Nadal lost serve only once, serving out the win in one hour, 40 minutes, his 21st victory of the season against three defeats.

First Published: Apr 30, 2006 11:59 IST