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Ferrer Holds Off Raonic

Barcelona, Spain

Ferrer© AFP/Getty ImagesDavid Ferrer is through to the Barcelona final for the fourth time.

World No. 6 David Ferrer withstood a barrage from big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic on Saturday to reach the final of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell for the fourth time with a 7-6(2), 7-6(5) victory.

The Spaniard has a 25-9 event record at this ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament after finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2008, 2009 and 2011. The third seed has dropped just one set in his four matches this week, saving three match points against Feliciano Lopez in the quarter-finals.

He will face Nadal in the final once more, after the defending champion's straight-sets win over Fernando Verdasco. "It will be difficult to beat Rafa on clay," conceded Ferrer. "I've lost the last three times to him on clay here, I hope it will be different for me tomorrow."

Ferrer was under pressure in the early stages against Raonic, who had recorded his first Top 4 win by beating Andy Murray on Friday. The Canadian engineered four break points, but was unable to convert and then was forced to save six break points himself before forcing a tie-break. Ferrer dominated the tie-break, racing to a 6-0 lead before closing out the opener on his seventh set point.

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Neither player was able to break through in the second set either, with Raonic saving the only break point in the 11th game. Ferrer claimed victory in another tie-break after two hours and five minutes as he whipped a backhand passing shot winner up the line. Raonic had fired 15 aces, but Ferrer was equally impressive on serve, winning 75 per cent of points behind his first serve.

"I feel good; it was a very difficult match but I played very solid and consistent," said Ferrer. "It's my fourth final here which is very difficult to do. Raonic has one of best serves on tour, he's improving a lot and he's still very young. I was very focussed during the tie-breaks and played better than him in those moments - that was the key to the match."

The 30-year-old Ferrer is chasing an ATP-best fourth title this season, following victories in Auckland (d. Rochus), and on clay in Buenos Aires (d. Almagro) and Acapulco (d. Verdasco). He has a 28-4 season record.

"I felt I had opportunities, especially in the first set. I had no chances in the second set," assessed Raonic. "I was defending a lot of break points. I felt I did well on his serve too. In general, it's getting better day by day. It's a little bit unfortunate I had those chances, but I also created my opportunities."

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