Barcelona: Rafael Nadal remained on course for a 12th Barcelona Open title after a hard fought 7-5 7-5 win over Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals. He played Struff for the first time but made a quick start by breaking early and leading 4-1. Struff broke back to level at 4-4 but when serving for the match, Nadal produced two of his best returns of the set to force errors from the German and win the set. The second set stayed on serve until 6-5 when Nadal upped his level again and on match point, he passed Struff with a breathtaking forehand pass. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: RijijuMeanwhile, Kei Nishikori on Friday kept alive his hopes of earning a third Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell title, battling past home favourite Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals. The 2014-15 Barcelona champion arrived in Spain on a three-match losing streak, but he has raised his level at the ATP 500 tournament with three straight-sets victories. The World No. 7 won all but six first-serve points (39/45) en route to his one-hour, 53-minute triumph. Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai Masters”The second set was very tight. I had many chances,” Nishikori said. “I couldn’t convert and he started playing better. He almost had a chance to go to three sets, so it was a very good game, I would say. But the past two games I finished really well and played good tennis again.” Nishikori will face in-form Daniil Medvedev for a spot in Sunday’s championship match. The Japanese star has won two of the pair’s three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, including their only match on clay last year in Monte-Carlo. But the Russian was victorious in their biggest battle, in the final of Tokyo last season. “He’s definitely a tough player,” Nishikori said. “He has a good serve, good reach. He gets many balls. He moves well for his height, so I have to play a lot of good tennis if I want to beat him.” It was not an easy quarter-final for the fourth seed, who was made to fight hard by Carballes Baena, the 2018 Quito champion. The Spaniard did well to neutralise Nishikori’s offence as best he could, taking any opening he could find to dictate play. But after saving the first eight break points he faced in the second set, Carballes Baena could not hold off Nishikori, who also made the 2016 final here.