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Nishikori cruises into third Barcelona final

AFP logoAFP 23-04-2016
Japan's Kei Nishikori hits a return during his 6-3, 6-2 semi-final victory over Benoit Paire at the Barcelona Open on April 23, 2016 © Provided by AFP Japan's Kei Nishikori hits a return during his 6-3, 6-2 semi-final victory over Benoit Paire at the Barcelona Open on April 23, 2016

Defending champion Kei Nishikori eased into his third consecutive Barcelona Open final with a 6-3, 6-2 win over French sixth seed Benoit Paire on Saturday.

The Japanese world number six has yet to drop a set in the Catalan capital this week and could face a mouthwatering clash with Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final if the 14-time Grand Slam champion can overcome Philipp Kohlschreiber in Saturday's other semi-final.

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"I love Barcelona, I'm very comfortable playing this tournament. It's been great this three years and I hope I can play a very good match tomorrow," Nishikori told Spanish TV station Teledeporte.

"I'll try to watch a little bit (of the other semi-final) maybe not the whole thing, but I hope to take something from today's match and prepare for tomorrow."

Paire had beaten Nishikori in their two most recent meetings in Nishikori's homeland in Tokyo and in a five-set thriller at the US Open last year.

However, Nishikori rarely looked troubled after breaking to lead 3-2 before a second break sealed the first set 6-3.

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Both players struggled on serve early in the second, but three breaks in the first four games put Nishikori 3-1 in front and he went on to seal his 14th straight win in Barcelona in just over an hour on court.

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