This week, the ATP circuit has its second stop on the European red clay with an ATP 500 event in Barcelona. Following a few days of hard battle at Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, the last four players remaining in the race for the title are ready to deliver the best tennis they can produce. The first semifinal will oppose Rafael Nadal and Horacio Zeballos in what it seems an easy task for the defending champion while the other showdown will have Andy Murray competing against Dominic Thiem. Both Thiem and Murray are still trying to get their bugs fixed during the clay court swing. The winner of their encounter could face Rafael Nadal in the final.

Andy Murray avoided defeat while Thiem breezed past his opponent

Booking a spot in the semifinal turned out to be a lot harder than expected as the world no. 1 found himself again fighting against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, the same player who took him off the rail last week in Monte-Carlo. As their previous meeting, this one had its moment of drama, especially in the second set. Being a set down, Murray was on the verge of defeat, but his opponent failed to serve out the match giving Murray the incentive he needed the most.

Even so, the match was decided on the third set tie-break where Murray kept his nerve against Monte-Carlo runner-up. On the other side, Dominic Thiem (9 ATP) and the fourth seed in the tournament got past Yuichi Sugita (91 ATP) in a strong and dominant manner losing only three games.

Moreover, the Austrian tennis star hasn't dropped a single set this week. An interesting battle stands ahead as Murray has never faced Thiem on clay. Their head to head stats had Murray as the winner of their two encounters. Last time they met was back in 2015 in the quarterfinals of Miami Masters.

Rafael Nadal cast a dangerous shadow for the upcoming match

If Murray gets past Thiem, this ATP tournament could have its closing partiture as stylish as it can possibly get. After a 12 months drought, Nadal clinched another title last week in Monte-Carlo while the ongoing Barcelona glorious run seems a natural follow-up for the Spaniard.

Last year he went on winning the same two events back to back, and the scenario could repeat itself this season. It's been almost a year since Nadal and Murray's last meeting took place. Occurring in Madrid, also on clay, it went down into Murray's pocket. If Nadal broke the chains of infertility last week, Andy Murray, despite being the world no. 1 for a while now, is yet to win an ATP title this season.

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