Nadal ends Fognini run to reach fifth Miami final

By Nicholas McGee 1 April 2017 189
Nadal ends Fognini run to reach fifth Miami final

Rafael Nadal is just a win away from a first Miami Open title after reaching his fifth final with a straight-sets win over Fabio Fognini.

Nadal has never won the ATP Masters 1000 event, losing in the final four times in his illustrious career.

And the Spaniard appeared in no mood to entertain the prospect of missing out on the showpiece as he breezed to the first set in just 25 minutes.

Fognini displayed greater resolve in a hard-fought second, but his composure eventually cracked as Nadal set up a final with either Nick Kyrgios or old nemesis Roger Federer with a 6-1 7-5 triumph.

Nadal has not lost to Fognini, who saw off Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals, since a 2015 defeat at the US Open and a gulf in class quickly became apparent.

The 14-time grand slam champion broke for a 3-1 lead when a fierce cross-court forehand was turned into the net by Fognini, who appeared little match for Nadal when he fell 5-1 behind.

A smash into the net from Fognini handed Nadal the double break and the writing seemed to be on the wall in the third game of the second as Nadal forged a 40-0 lead. 

But Fognini saved all three of those break points and a fourth to hold, receiving treatment on his elbow after that game.

A tie-break looked an inevitably as Nadal laboured to breach the defences of a player who had produced an error-strewn first set, but Fognini let parity slip in his final service game of the second.

Fognini recovered from 30-0 down only to hand Nadal a break point when a drop shot drifted wide, and a double-fault on the next point proved fatal to his hopes.

Nadal had no difficulties serving the match out, holding to love to reach his fifth Miami final and edge closer to a first title of 2017.

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Nicholas McGee