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Nadal To Meet Fish In SFs; Murray, Ferrer Advance

Tokyo, Japan

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal has joined Novak Djokovic on 64 match wins this year.

Top seed Rafael Nadal remains on course to retain his title at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.

The Spaniard booked his place in the semi-finals on Friday with a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory over Santiago Giraldo of Colombia in just over two hours. Nadal is now 4-0 lifetime against the World No. 53.

"It was a tough match, he played well and aggressive," said Nadal. "It was a positive victory, straight sets. It was very windy outside, but on the court it wasn't bad. Conditions were okay. To reach the semi-finals without losing a set is good. Physically I am fine, no problems. The end of the season is important, I am motivated to become a better player and work hard every day."

Giraldo admitted: "Today was the fourth time I played him. It was the best match I played. It was close in the first set and I had some chances in the second. I will try to keep improving every day. It was good for my confidence and I look forward to the rest of the year."

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Nadal will next challenge 29-year-old American Mardy Fish, the No. 4 seed, who is in contention to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London in November. "Mardy Fish is playing fantastic this year," said Nadal. "I lost to him last time in Cincinnati [at the Western & Southern Open], so it will be a big challenge for me tomorrow. I will need to be more aggressive than I played today."

Fish, competing in Tokyo this week for the first time since 2002, defeated Australia's Bernard Tomic 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 11 minutes for his 20th match win in his past 24 matches and a place in his eighth ATP World Tour semi-final (or better) this season.

"It was very tough," said Fish. "He is a young player and his game presents a lot of awkward moments. He doesn't exactly play like normal players play. He is going to be good for a long time. I just had to try and hang in there in the second set and take any opportunity I had. I think he was 4-4, 40/0 up in the second set, and I came back to win the game. That was the turning point.

"London is the main goal at the end of the year. I have never made it before. I desperately want to, that's no secret. I am in a great position, I've had a great tournament so far but there I feel like there is still work to do. I have the opportunity to add more points in the race and with Shanghai next week, an [ATP World Tour] Masters 1000 event, it would be good to win some more matches on hard courts."

Third seed Andy Murray recorded his 19th win in his past 20 matches with a hard-fought 6-4, 7-5 win over World No. 64 David Nalbandian. Murray missed one break point opportunity on serve in the 10th game of the second set, but went onto break Nalbandian for a fourth time and served out to love to book a place in the semi-finals after one hour and 40 minutes.

"I played well," said Murray. "I served very well for the most part. He is one of the best returners in the game, so I didn't give him too many opportunities. At the end he started to come at me a little bit and I made a few mistakes and I got a little bit tentative. I served for the match a couple of times and let it slip, but I broke back immediately. So I was pleased with that."

Murray has won all three hard-court meetings against his next opponent, third-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer, who made it three wins out of three on hard courts against seventh seed Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic with a 6-2, 7-6(3) win in one hour and 45 minutes. Victory marked the Javea native’s 400th tour-level victory. Ferrer is also in a strong position to qualify for the season finale at No. 5 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Year-To-Date Rankings.

Murray added, "I will try and get a good night's sleep, get some food in me and have a massage before bed. Ferrer is a very tough opponent. He has been in the Top 10 for a very long time and is playing some of the best tennis of his career. I had a great match with him in Australia. Rallies are always long and I'll have to be ready for to fight."

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