Barcelona, Spain: Defending champion Kei Nishikori made his way into the Barcelona Open semifinals by holding off Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 on Friday.
Third-seeded David Ferrer also advanced by beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (5) as he stayed on course for a fifth final appearance at the tournament.
After the top-seeded Nishikori won the first set easily, Bautista Agut rebounded in the second and got his first break. The seventh-seeded Spaniard saved three break points in his final service game before using two big serves to force the third set.
Nishikori re-established his ground game to take a 3-1 lead before winning the last three games on the Real Club de Tenis' outdoor clay courts.
"It was difficult match," Nishikori said. "He started really well in the second set, and I was less focused, but I'm happy to win in three sets and fight really strong at the end."
Nishikori will next face Martin Klizan after the Slovak eliminated Tommy Robredo 7-6 (5), 6-4 despite needing massage on his right forearm twice.
Klizan beat Nishikori in their only previous meeting, a straight-set victory in the first round of last year's French Open.
Ferrer and Kohlschreiber traded breaks three times in the second set to force the tiebreaker.
Ferrer lost all four finals he played here to eight-time winner Rafael Nadal.
Later, Fabio Fognini was set to play Pablo Andujar a day after the Italian upset Nadal. The winner will face Ferrer.