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Nishikori To Face Giraldo In Barcelona Final

Barcelona, Spain

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Kei Nishikori has become the first Japanese player to reach the final of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, which was first held in 1953.

He will challenge a red-hot Santiago Giraldo after the Colombian upset Rafael Nadal's conqueror Nicolas Almagro in the second semi-final at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899, the oldest Spanish tennis club.

The fourth seed defeated ninth seed Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 6-4 in 86 minutes on Saturday for a place in his seventh ATP World Tour title match (4-2 record). The pair had met at Bermuda in 2004, on the ATP Challenger Tour, with Nishikori winning in three sets.

"I was very happy to see lots of Japanese people congratulating me after the match," said Nishikori. "I love coming to Spain to play. There have not been any easy matches. I am playing great and I am particularly pleased with my serve and forehand against [Marin] Cilic and today."

Nishikori lifted his fourth trophy in February at the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis (d. Karlovic).

Gulbis had been attempting to reach his sixth final (5-0 record).

Giraldo, meanwhile, is surging through the month of April, improving to 8-1 following a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Almagro, the 2013 runner-up. He advanced to the semi-finals in Houston earlier this month as well.

The Colombian fired six aces, 19 winners and held Almagro to one break of serve in seven opportunities, emerging victorious in 85 minutes. It was Giraldo's second Top 20 scalp of the week after registering a second round win over No. 3 seed Fabio Fognini.

The 26 year old will contest his second ATP World Tour final after finishing runner-up in Vina del Mar (l. to Robredo) in 2011.

Nishikori leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head series 4-1, having most recently prevailed 6-1, 6-3 in Indian Wells earlier this year.

Nestor/Zimonjic Eye 26th Team Title
The fifth-seeded duo of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic will seek their 26th team title on Sunday after Nestor, Zimonjicdefeating the No. 3 seeds and Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters runners-up Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 6-4, 6-4. Nestor will be vying for his 84th doubles crown and fifth in Barcelona, while Zimonjic is looking to pull to within one victory from career win No. 600.

The Canadian/Serbian team are two-time Barcelona champions having prevailed in 2009-'10. Nestor won on two separate occasions with Mark Knowles as well, in 2004 and 2006, while Zimonjic triumphed alongside Leander Paes in 2005.

Nestor and Zimonjic will face lucky losers Jesse Huta Galung and Stephane Robert in the final after the Dutch/French pairing routed Fabio Fognini and Jurgen Melzer 6-2, 6-0 on Saturday. Huta Galung and Robert, who are competing in their first tournament together, entered the main draw after top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan withdrew. Both are seeking their first ATP World Tour doubles crowns.

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