Spaniards to meet in Barcelona final

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BARCELONA, Spain — Six-time champion Rafael Nadal defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-4 Saturday to ease into the Barcelona Open final, where he will face fellow Spaniard David Ferrer for a fourth time.

Nadal dominated from the start, winning 21 of 27 points to break Verdasco’s first three service games and set him on his way to his 33rd consecutive win at the competition.

“I began the first set very strong, and getting the first break gave me a lot of confidence,” Nadal said. “He also made some errors early on, which helped me.”

In the other semifinal, Ferrer held off Milos Raonic’s powerful serve for a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) victory to give him a shot at his fourth title of the year.

“Rafa is the best player, clay-court player ever,” Ferrer said. “He has beaten me three times in the finals here. I hope tomorrow is different.”

Nadal improved to 13-0 all time against Verdasco.

PORSCHE GRAND PRIX: In Stuttgart, Germany, top-ranked Victoria Azarenka will face No. 2 Maria Shara­pova in the final today.

Azarenka cruised past Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-3 in the first semifinal Saturday, and Sharapova outlasted No. 3 Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion, 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Azarenka is seeking a tour-high fifth tournament title of the year.

She dominated the match against the fourth-ranked Radwanska, whose four losses of the year have come against Azarenka.

On match point, Azarenka fired a forehand winner to advance to the final. She is 29-1 for the year.

Sharapova is off to a promising start to her clay-court season. The Russian broke serve in the fifth game and did not face a break point of her own in the first set.

That changed in the second.

Kvitova held 11 break points in the set, but the Czech could not convert any.

She did convert her 12th <0x2014> after saving a match point <0x2014> to even the score at 6-6 and sent the second set into the tiebreaker. Sharapova made fewer mistakes and now seeks her first title of the year.

Azarenka leads Sharapova 5-3 in career meetings.


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