Kei Nishikori continued his march through the Barcelona draw with a quick 6-3, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Benoit Paire. The two-time defending champion has now won his last 13 sets in Barcelona, and will look to seal a third consecutive title in Sunday's final
Paire had defeated his Japanese opponent twice towards the end of last year - at the US Open and in Tokyo - so this promised to be a more interesting match than it looked on paper. This time, however, Paire was unable to live with the world number six, who took just 67 minutes to wrap up victory.
Nishikori dominates set one
Nishikori started fast, racing to the first set with two breaks of serve. The Japanese was serving well, only losing three points on serve throughout the entire set, and looked in full control of the match when he broke again at the start of the second to take a 2-0 lead.
Paire broke back soon after, but it turned out to be a mere stutter on the way to an emphatic victory for Nishikori, who won 59% of points on his opponent's serve during set two.
Aggressive performance from defending champion
The straightforward victory came with 15 winners for the 2014 and 2015 champion, who was helped along the way by 27 unforced errors from Paire.
In reviewing his performance, Nishikori said that he "played very aggressively, especially attacking his second serve." Looking forward to the final tomorrow, he claimed he would "try to watch a little bit" of the second semifinal, featuring Rafael Nadal and Philip Kohlschreiber.
A final against Kohlschreiber would likely set up Nishikori for another Barcelona title, whereas a title match with Nadal would prove a much tougher test. The nine-time Roland Garros champion has had a tough year or two, but as his title at last week's Monte Carlo Masters reminded us, should never be counted out on his favourite surface.