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Nadal, Monfils To Square Off In Doha SFs

Doha, Qatar

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesNadal improved to 9-4 against Mikhail Youzhny Thursday.

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal defeated Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-4 in a quality quarter-final encounter at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open Thursday to reach the semi-finals for the third straight year in Doha. "I think I played my best match here today," declared Nadal.

"For a lot of moments during the match, I played at a very, very high level, moving very well, going inside the court. I had control of the point most of the time against a player that I normally [am not able to dictate], because his level has always put me in trouble in the past."

The Spaniard won 75 per cent of his first serve points, and was proficient at the net, taking eight of nine points when he came forward to win for the ninth time in 13 meetings against Youzhny. "I think I was moving fast. I tried to go to the net a lot of times," Nadal said afterwards on court. "That's what I need to keep doing if I want to compete against the top players. Mikhail is a fantastic player and it was tough. But I think I did well."

Nadal, bidding to win his first title at the event in his fifth appearance, will square off against No. 4 seed Gael Monfils. The 16th-ranked Monfils dismissed fifth seed Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 12 minutes. The Frenchman broke Troicki five times and won 52 per cent of his return points to improve his record against the Serb to a 2-0 mark. "I was ready to put on my best by overpower[ing] him and just control[ing] the court," said Monfils. "So it was a tactic, I think. That's why I played like this tonight."

Monfils, seeking his fifth title, has defeated Nadal just once in their previous nine meetings. However, his lone victory against the 10-time major champion came in the Doha quarter-finals two years ago. "It will be tough. I have to play like I did tonight," Monfils said in an on-court interview. "I know what Rafa will give me and he knows what I will give him. It will be a strong match from the baseline."

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