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Rafael Nadal celebrates reaching his fifth Miami Open presented by Itau final on Friday.

Nadal Sprints Into Fifth Miami Final

Spaniard improves to 8-3 against Fognini with SF win
Rafael Nadal will play in his fifth Miami Open presented by Itau final after rolling past Italian Fabio Fognini 6-1, 7-5 in Friday's first semi-final. The Spaniard kept up his sizzling South Florida play, never facing a break point and pressuring the Italian's serve throughout the 90-minute contest.

In Sunday's final, the 30-year-old Nadal will try to achieve what's eluded him on four other occasions: the Miami Open presented by Itau title. The Spaniard also reached the Miami final in 2005 (l. to Federer), 2008 (l. to Davydenko), 2011 and 2014 (l. to Djokovic both times). Nadal, who will be going for his 29th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, will face either fourth seed Roger Federer or Aussie Nick Kyrgios, who play Friday evening.

“It's great to be in the final... For me, doesn't matter the opponent. I am happy to be in that final again, and I am excited to play another final of an important event,” Nadal said.

The Spaniard improved to 8-3 against Fognini in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and has only lost one set during the Miami tournament – his opening bagel against German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round. What has carried Nadal to his fifth Miami final – stellar serving and opportunistic returning – propelled him on Friday as well.

The Spaniard sprinted through the first set, losing only four points on his serve (16/20) and forcing Fognini to stay in rallies. The Italian mixed up his pace nicely but struggled to string together any momentum, eventually netting a backhand to give Nadal the opener after just 26 minutes. Fognini finished the first set with 14 unforced errors.

“My serve worked well,” Nadal said. “I think I didn't face a break point during the whole match, so that is something that I am very happy with. That gives you calm when you have opportunities on the return and you don't convert.”

 Watch Full Match Replays

The 30-year-old Italian, playing in his second Masters 1000 semi-final, came to life in the second set, though. He matched Nadal's pace and erased five break points during his first two service games. It looked as if Fognini might force their last-four match-up into a decider. But at 5-5, Fognini double faulted and Nadal had his break. Four points later, he had the match.

“Two different matches today. I think first set was no match... Second one, when I was starting to play my tennis, I think he was feeling that I was feeling better and better and a few points were going to decide the match,” Fognini said. “At the end, I think we had a great fight.”

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