Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese player to reach the final of the Barcelona Open when he beat Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 6-2 6-4 in the semi-finals on Saturday. - EPA
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Fourth seed Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese player to reach the final of the Barcelona Open when he out-hit Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 6-2 6-4 on Saturday.
Nicolas Almagro failed to reproduce the form that helped him end Rafa Nadal's 41-match, 11-year unbeaten run at the tournament as the Spaniard lost his semi-final 7-5 6-3 to unseeded Colombian Santiago Giraldo.
Nishikori will now fancy his chances of landing a first claycourt trophy in Sunday's final with Giraldo who has yet to win a title on the ATP Tour.
"I am very happy with the way I am playing and especially with my service and forehand," said the Japanese who is making his comeback after being sidelined for a month with a groin injury.
"This is a tough tournament with so many top Spanish players involved but now I am in the final and it is in my hands," he told reporters.
Nishikori's consistency from the back of the court was too much for Gulbis to handle.
The 24-year-old was quick around the court as he broke twice to take the first set.
Gulbis offered more resistance in the second set but Nishikori broke to go 5-4 ahead before clinching victory on his own serve.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)