Rafael Nadal revved up his vaunted clay game Friday in Madrid by hammering Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals. Rafa has now beaten Berdych 17 straight times and after a disappointing April, this week in Madrid he hasn’t lost a set or faced a set point.
“It was a match with a lot of intensity, and perhaps it was my toughest match in the tournament,” said Nadal. “I knew that I had to go a step forward [level-wise]. I think that I did it pretty well. I played pretty well during a long time. To make it to the semi-finals for first time in the clay season, here in Madrid, is great news for me.”
Nadal now plays fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut who scorched Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4 to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal.
“I’m really happy for it being here in Madrid and [to make] it to the semi-finals, playing against one of the best players of history,” said the 26-year-old Bautista Agut. “I am very happy for the current moment that I have, for the tennis that I am playing right now, and especially for being just well.”
The win put Bautista Agut into the Top 30 and gives him a seeding for the French Open.
In the second men’s semifinal, David Ferrer meets Barcelona winner Kei Nishikori in a rematch of their Miami clash won by the Japanese in a final set breaker.
More importantly for Nishikori, his 6-4, 6-4 win today over Feliciano Lopez cracks him into the top 10.
“It was a big goal for me to get in Top 10,” said Nishikori. “I have to keep playing better tennis and keep this ranking.”
Ferrer eased into the semifinals with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Ernests Gulbis.
“These two matches I’ve been playing really well,” said Ferrer who defeated John Isner in straight sets Thursday. “I’m happy because of the level I’ve been showing. After the first match this week, I was a little bit nervous. In Monte Carlo I had good feelings. This week I have had those good feelings once again.”
The women also played their quarterfinals and the big news was defending champion Serena Williams withdrawing from her match against Petra Kvitova with a left thigh injury.
“I have a left thigh injury and, unfortunately, have to withdraw from this year’s Mutua Madrid Open,” Serena said. “It happened during my first round match. It started to get better, but most importantly right now, I just need some time to rest and recover.
“It’s beyond words. It’s so frustrating. We couldn’t ask for a better tournament and I love it here in Madrid. I love being a champion here. Manolo Santana and his team put on a great tournament. This is not the way I wanted this week to end.
“I am planning to play in Rome. Fortunately, I have a bye next week so will have an extra day of rest,” Williams added. “For now, I will take it one day at a time and take advantage of some extra rest.”
Kvitova will play her semifinal against Simona Halep, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic.
In the second semi, Maria Sharapova faces Agnieszka Radwanska. Sharapova overcame a set down to beat Li Na 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 while the Radwanska ended Caroline Garcia’s run 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Sharapova has won nine of 11 against the Polish No. 1 taking all three on clay.
SATURDAY MADRID SCHEDULE
MANOLO SANTANA start 11:30 am
WTA –  P Kvitova (CZE) vs  S Halep (ROU)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA –  A Radwanska (POL) vs  M Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before 3:30 pm
ATP –  R Nadal (ESP) vs R Bautista Agut (ESP)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP –  K Nishikori (JPN) vs  D Ferrer (ESP)
WTA – Doubles Final – [WC] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suarez Navarro (ESP) vs  S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA)
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