After winning the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this month, Rafael Nadal appears to be regaining his elite form on red clay. The Spaniard looks to advance to the final at the Barcelona Open on Saturday when he faces No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Nadal, seeded No.1 in a tournament located not far from his hometown of Manacor, will have the home crowd on his side. The 29-year-old will also have momentum, having won eight consecutive matches, which include victories over No. 15 Dominic Thiem, No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, No. 2 Andy Murray, No. 14 Gael Monfils, as well as No. 31 Fabio Fognini on Friday. Nadal has dropped just two sets since being upset by Damir Dzumhur in Miami in March.
This sudden surge can be crucial for Nadal as the King of Clay hopes to capture his first Grand Slam since winning the French Open in 2014. The comeback trail has had many bumps in the road after a series of injuries, but Nadal could be on his way to being a favorite at Roland Garros if his current form remains in tact.
Kohlschreiber, 32, fell to Wawrinka in straight sets in Monte Carlo after defeating up-and-coming star Borna Coric in the first round. The German has two solid victories in Barcelona, holding off Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the Round of 16 and then defeating Andrey Kuznetsov in straight sets on Friday.
Nadal and Kohlschreiber have met on 14 occasions since 2002, with Nadal winning 13 times. The last time they met was in 2013 when Nadal won in Beijing on the hard court 6-4 7-6(3).
Saturday's semifinal matches begin at 6:30 a.m. ET when No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan faces wild-card Benoit Paire of France. Nadal and Kohlschreiber will begin their match, at the earliest, after 10 a.m. ET.
Prediction: The crowd will be loud and encouraging for Nadal, who probably won't need to rely on anything other than his excellent ground strokes. Kohlschreiber could make things interesting, but Nadal will likely come away with a win in straight sets.
Start Time: After 10:00 a.m ET (Following Nishikori vs. Paire)
TV Channel: Tennis Channel
Live Stream: tennistv.com