March 12, 2014
Nadal, Federer to meet in Madrid Open semis
Spaniard Rafael Nadal cleared the latest hurdle on his quest for a third claycourt title in under a month when he overpowered Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-2 6-2 to set up a Madrid Masters 1000 semi-final against Roger Federer.
The heavyweight pair were joined in the last four by unseeded Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, who caused another upset following Thursday's third-round victory over fourth seed Andy Murray when he knocked out Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6 6-3.
Bellucci, a stylish left-hander whose previous best at a Masters event was a fourth-round berth in Miami in 2010, will play in-form Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday's final.
The Serbian second seed silenced the home fans when he ended the hopes of sixth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4 4-6 6-3 to take his winning streak to 32 and his win-loss record in 2011 to 30-0, the third-best season start on record.
"I expected a very close match as he never gives up and he's a great fighter," he said of Ferrer in a television interview.
"Bellucci is obviously hitting the ball really well at this tournament and it's his favourite surface so it's going to be another tough match tomorrow."
Djokovic's red-hot form has led to speculation he could challenge Nadal's dominance on clay, especially in the Spanish capital where the courts are quick and the altitude makes the ball fly faster.
Nadal and his great rival Federer, who have 26 grand slam singles titles between them, have met in the last two Madrid finals, with the Swiss winning in 2009 and Nadal gaining revenge last year.
Former number one Federer went through to the last four when he saw off fifth seed Robin Soderling 7-6 6-4 in breezy conditions in the Magic Box arena, his 16th win in 17 matches against the Swede.