Nadal coasts past Berdych to reach Madrid semis
By Iain Rogers
MADRID (Reuters) - World number one Rafa Nadal thumped Tomas Berdych 6-4 6-2 on Friday to set up a semi-final against the Madrid Open's surprise package, unseeded fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista.
Defending champion Nadal has not been at his dominant best on his favored clay this year, losing in the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
However, he had a relatively easy ride against the outclassed Czech sixth seed, a player he has now beaten on 18 occasions in 21 meetings on all surfaces and 17 times in a row.
Nadal broke Berdych's serve three times without losing his own and, with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic withdrawing and Andy Murray knocked out on Thursday, remains firmly on course for a fourth Madrid Open crown.
David Ferrer, the fifth seed, beat unseeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to join his compatriots in the semis. Feliciano Lopez could make it an all-Spanish affair by defeating Kei Nishikori in the late match. The 10th-seeded Nishikori, though, would become the first Japanese to break into the world's top 10 if he triumphed.
The last Asian male to reach the top 10 was Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan in 2004.
Nadal said his performance was probably his best of the clay season, good news for the Mallorcan as he gears up for a tilt at a record-extending ninth French Open crown later this month.