With just a few weeks from the French Open, Rafael Nadal continues to (re)build confidence. Today, the 2-time defending Madrid champion cruised past Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-4
“Overall I’m satisfied; I’m happy,” said Nadal after his 13th straight win at the tournament. “I have made it to the semi-finals, and I think that’s a great result for me, especially after losing in Barcelona the way I did.
“My goal is [to] feel myself playing better every day. That’s my real goal. Then obviously, the goal is always the same, [to] try to have the [best] result possible.”
Nadal will now face Tomas Berdych in a rematch of their Australian Open quarterfinal won by the Czech. Berdych advanced after saving a second set matchpoint against American John Isner 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(1).
“I’m really looking forward [to] that challenge,” Berdych said of playing Nadal. “It’s going to be a nice match.”
Despite the win in Melbourne, Berdych is still down 18-4 to Rafa and has never beaten the Spaniard on clay (0-6) losing 13 straight sets.
In the second semi, a resurgent Andy Murray takes on Kei Nishikori. Murray remained perfect as a married man (7-0) after beating an ailing Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-5. Raonic admitted to having a chronic pinched nerve in his right foot.
Meanwhile, Murray, who won his first clay title earlier this week in Munich, credited his movement for the win.
“I feel like I’ve been moving well,” said Murray. “The first couple of weeks on the clay, I tried to work on it quite a lot in my training block before I started playing the tournaments.
“Because I feel healthy this year, I’m not worrying about my back or worrying about things when I am put in difficult positions on court. That obviously gives me a bit more confidence in the movement.”
Nishikori wrapped up the day easing past Spanish veteran David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2. Nishikori now leads Ferrer 8-4 winning six of their last seven.
The 25-year-old Nishikori made the final in Madrid last year, but is just 1-3 vs Murray. However, Nishikori won their last meeting at the London finals and this is their first clash on clay, the Scots least favorite surface.
SATURDAY MADRID SCHEDULE
MANOLO SANTANA Start Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP –  T. Berdych (CZE) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 5:30 pm
WTA – Singles Final –  P. Kvitova (CZE) vs S. Kuznetsova (RUS)
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP –  K. Nishikori (JPN) vs  A. Murray (GBR)
WTA – Doubles Final – C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs  G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)
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