- Madrid Open
Nadal closing in on fourth Madrid crown
Reigning champion Rafael Nadal booked his place in the final of the Madrid Open after beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-3 on his 12th appearance at the event.
The world No.1 will be bidding to add to his record 26 ATP Masters 1000 titles when he faces Kei Nishikori in Sunday's showdown.
"It was an important victory for me," Nadal said. "After a great match yesterday [against Tomas Berdych], I have the confirmation today that the improvement is real. It's very good news for me. I think for moments I played great tennis against an opponent that is playing really well and improving a lot."
Nadal eyes all-time top 10
- Rafael Nadal's victory was the 687th of his career and he is now just 26 behind Boris Becker in 10th position on the list of Open era winners.
1. Jimmy Connors - 1,253 wins
2. Ivan Lendl - 1,071
3. Roger Federer - 951
4. Guillermo Vilas - 929
5. John McEnroe - 875
6. Andre Agassi - 870
7. Stefan Edberg - 801
8. Ilie Nastase - 779
9. Pete Sampras - 762
10. Boris Becker - 713
Three-time winner Nadal made a quick start to the semi-final as he took three of the opening four games to lead 3-1. However, Bautista Agut reclaimed the break and made it 3-3.
Nadal, though, raised his level to break Bautista Agut for a second time in the seventh game to go 4-3 up. The Spaniard then sealed the opening set in style after flashing a cross-court forehand past his opponent.
Bautista Agut, who defeated Andy Murray's conqueror Santiago Giraldo in the quarter-finals, was in danger of being whitewashed as he fell 4-0 behind.
Keen to extend his stay in Madrid on his debut at the tournament, Bautista Agut staged a fightback to take three successive games and close the gap to one at 4-3.
But Nadal quickly put an end to the comeback by holding serve in the eighth game to go 5-3 up, before clinching a spot in the final with a 26th winner of the match courtesy of a forehand up the line.
Nishikori reached his maiden Masters 1000 final after seeing off David Ferrer 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3, with the Barcelona Open winner requiring 10 match points to overcome the fifth seed.