Saturday, May 7, 2011

Djokovic passes Lendl; Nadal, Federer set for Madrid semis

Saturday, May 7, 2011








MADRID (AP) ? Rafael Nadal will take on Roger Federer at the Madrid Open for the third straight year after both men came through their quarterfinal matches in straight sets on Friday.





  • Rafael Nadal, playijng a backhand during his quarterfinal match, cruised past Michael Llodra to reach the Madrid Open semifinals.

    By Julian Finney, Getty Images


    Rafael Nadal, playijng a backhand during his quarterfinal match, cruised past Michael Llodra to reach the Madrid Open semifinals.



By Julian Finney, Getty Images


Rafael Nadal, playijng a backhand during his quarterfinal match, cruised past Michael Llodra to reach the Madrid Open semifinals.






The well-rested Nadal scored a straightforward 6-2, 6-2 victory over Michael Llodra, while Federer was a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 winner over Robin Soderling.


Novak Djokovic stretched his season's perfect start to 30 matches after beating David Ferrer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.


A day after matching Ivan Lendl's 29-0 start from 1986, the second-ranked Serbian moved one better and closer to Bjorn Borg's 1980 mark of 33-0. John McEnroe holds the season's record start after winning his first 42 matches in 1984.


Nadal had little difficulty in defeating his French opponent after reaching the last eight when Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from their third-round match on Thursday.


Having broken Llodra for the first of four times in the opening game, Nadal didn't have to defend a single break point on serve as he won 25 of 30 first service points.


"I didn't think I would win like that," said the 24-year-old Nadal, who also beat Llodra in their only prior meeting on the challenger circuit in 2003. "He's got a powerful serve and dangerous volley so it's hard to pass him but in the first set he committed some errors. Winning that first set gave me a lot of confidence."


Nadal stretched his latest clay-court winning streak to 36 matches as he goes for his second straight Madrid title in three seasons after splitting the last two finals against 2009 champion Federer.


Federer, meanwhile, was pushed by his Swedish opponent who saved three first set points before finally succumbing to the third-ranked Federer in a tiebreaker.


Soderling lost some of his momentum after that and netted on match point to confirm the attractive semifinal matchup.


"Conditions were tough today, I didn't know we could get such wind in a closed stadium. But I thought I played a great match from start to finish," said Federer, who is 8-15 overall against Nadal but 2-10 on clay.


"I'm excited, I'm playing Rafa here in the next round. I've beaten him here in the past, but it will obviously depend a lot on the day — but he's the favorite on the clay."


Sixth-seeded Ferrer put Djokovic under pressure in an entertaining match of acrobatic shots, with the Serb curling a shot down the line to break Ferrer for 3-2 in the final set after the Spaniard had double-faulted on his advantage.


Djokovic cruised to his 32nd straight win — dating back to December — after converting his most important of five break points.


"It's David Ferrer — he never gives up," said Djokovic before looking ahead to his next opponent Thomaz Bellucci. "Bellucci is playing very well in this tournament and he's hitting the ball well here. He defeated two of the favorites so it's a tough match."


Bellucci was the first men's player to reach the semifinals after the Brazilian followed up his third-round victory over Andy Murray to win a battle of baseliners against seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.


The 36th-ranked Bellucci was also dominating on serve, winning 85% of first-serve points and didn't face a break point against the seventh-ranked Czech.


"The conditions on these courts are perfect for me," Bellucci said."I like playing here."


Julia Goerges beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-2 for her 10th straight win to reach the women's semifinals.


The German player, who defeated top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the third round, had six aces and didn't drop a service game while breaking her Russian opponent three times for her 10th straight victory.


The 27th-ranked Goerges will play Victoria Azarenka of Belarus for a place in Sunday's final. The fourth-seeded Azarenka beat Czech player Lucie Safarova 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.


Australian Open finalist Li Na of China beat American player Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to play Petra Kvitova in the last four. The Czech player beat Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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