Nadal to face Ferrer in Barcelona final

Rafael Nadal and Spanish countryman David Ferrer will meet in their second final in two weeks at the Barcelona Open.

Both cruised through their semifinals on Saturday, Nadal beating the only non-Spaniard in the last four, Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-3, 6-2, and Ferrer topping Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal won his 28th straight match in Barcelona, including five straight titles from 2005-09. He missed last year because of injury.

He defeated Ferrer in the Barcelona finals of 2008 and 2009, and in last weekend’s final of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Nadal leads their head to head 12-4.

”I like to look at stats that favor me,” Nadal said. ”But every game is different and David is having a great beginning to the year.”

A Spaniard will feature in the Barcelona final for the 15th straight year, and win it for an eighth year in a row. Ferrer, Spain’s second highest-ranked player after Nadal, hopes to add his name to the honor roll.

”I am very happy (to be in the finals),” Ferrer said. ”Barcelona is the tournament that most motivates me, it is the tournament I most want to win.

”I know that it is going to be complicated with Nadal there, but I am in the final and I want to enjoy it.”

Nadal made a commanding start when he slapped Dodig’s approach shot down the middle as he reeled off eight straight points to break his unseeded challenger.

The feisty Dodig, who upset Robin Soderling in round two, broke Nadal back in the fourth game when the Spaniard’s forehand sailed long, and then held his serve to go ahead 3-2.

Nadal forced the Croat into hitting wide with a deep cross drive to record his second service break in the seventh game, and Dodig then hit a pair of double faults as Nadal closed out the first set.

The second set began just like the first with Nadal breaking Dodig’s opening service game and with the underdog breaking right back. But this time Nadal dominated the rest of the set for the 500th win of his career.

He’s the second youngest after Bjorn Borg to post 500 wins in the Open era.

”This is the consequence of years of hard work,” said the 24-year-old Nadal. ”The only negative thing is that I have already been on the circuit nine years.”

Earlier, an almost error-free Ferrer took advantage of an inconsistent Almagro to win their first set.

”David is playing spectacularly well right now,” said Almagro, who lost to Ferrer in the final of Acapulco in February.

Ferrer hit three drops shot on his way to breaking Almagro in the fifth game of the second set, and kept serve to advance to his fourth straight final.

”He had the answer to all my weapons,” said Almagro. ”You always have to play one ball too many that he ends up winning.”

Ferrer extended his unbeaten record to 7-0 against Almagro, who will enter the top 10 when the rankings are updated on Monday.