MADRID (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal is one win away from a fifth title since returning from injury after the Spanish world number five thumped compatriot Pablo Andujar 6-0 6-4 on Saturday to reach the Madrid Open final.
With his customary strapping on the troublesome left knee that sidelined him for seven months until February, home favorite Nadal was in scintillating form as he raced through the first set on the sun-drenched clay of Manolo Santana center court.
Andujar, a tournament wildcard ranked 113 in the world, put up more of a fight in the second but Nadal secured a fourth break in the ninth game and served out to move a step closer to his third title at the Masters event in the Spanish capital.
Nadal will meet sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, runner-up last year to Roger Federer, or Federer’s Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, the 15th seed, in Sunday’s final.
It will be his seventh final appearance in seven tournaments since he returned.
“The results could not have been better,” he said in a courtside interview with Spanish television broadcaster La Sexta.
“Five months ago I could not have dreamed of everything that has happened during these past few months,” added the 26-year-old. “It’s almost a dream to be back in another final at home here in Madrid.”
Nadal, the French Open champion, extended his spectacular winning streak in semi-finals on his favored clay, his last defeat coming a decade ago when he fell to compatriot Carlos Moya in Umag.
Saturday’s success against Andujar, who was appearing in his first Masters semi-final, was Nadal’s 46th last-four victory on the red dust in a row.
The Majorcan is third on the list of clay title winners in the professional era with 39, trailing fellow left-handers Guillermo Vilas (45) and Thomas Muster (40).
He will be chasing an eighth French Open title and a 12th grand slam singles crown at Roland Garros starting later this month.
Second seed Federer was upset by Kei Nishikori in the third round while world number one Novak Djokovic lost in the second round to Grigor Dimitrov.
Editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar