Japan’s Kei Nishikori reached his second ATP final of the season with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Latvian Ernests Gulbis at the ATP Barcelona Open on Saturday.
Nishikori, playing for the first time on clay under new coach and former French Open champion Michael Chang, was dominant on serve throughout and never faced a break point on his way to sealing victory in one hour 25 minutes.
The world No. 17 will face Santiago Giraldo in Sunday’s final after the Colombian beat Spain’s Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-3 in the other semifinal.
Sharapova in final
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova crushed Sara Errani 6-1, 6-2 to move within one victory of a third straight Porsche Grand Prix title in Stuttgart.
The sixth-seeded Sharapova took just 59 minutes to win the lopsided semifinal in which she pounded 30 winners and won six of Erraini’s seven service games. “I really wanted to step it up. It’s my first tournament in the clay court season, You want to improve steadily,” Sharapova said. “But I am not finished yet, there is one more match.”
Sharapova now stands 5-1 against the Italian (including the 2012 French Open final she won 6-3, 6-2) and is 12-0 in Stuttgart where she eyes a third trophy in a row on Sunday, and 30th overall. Her opponent will be the winner of the Serbian duel between fifth seed Jelena Jankovic and ninth seed Ana Ivanovic.
The results: At Barcelona: ATP Barcelona Open: Semifinals: Kei Nishikori bt Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 6-4; Santiago Giraldo bt Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-3. Quarterfinals: Almagro bt Rafael Nadal 2-6, 7-6(5) 6-4; Giraldo bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 4-3 (retd.).
At Stuttgart: WTA Porsche Grand Prix: Semifinals: Maria Sharapova bt Sara Errani 6-1, 6-2. Quarterfinals: Errani bt Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-7(6), 3-0 (retd.); Jelena Jankovic bt Alisa Kleybanova 6-4, 6-3; Ana Ivanovic bt Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.