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Nadal Records 50th Match Win On Parisian Clay; Beats Almagro To Reach SFs

Paris, France

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal is a six-time champion at Roland Garros.

Second seed Rafael Nadal, who is attempting to win a seventh Roland Garros title, won his 50th match on Parisian clay by beating fellow Spaniard and No. 12 seed Nicolas Almagro 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-3 on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals.

Nadal became the sixth player to win 50 plus matches at Roland Garros. The World No. 2 joined Guillermo Vilas (56), Roger Federer (54), Ivan Lendl (53), Andre Agassi (51) and Nicola Pietrangeli (50). He will next play another Spaniard, sixth seed David Ferrer, on Friday.

"You cannot expect to win an easy match in [the] quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, [the] quarter-finals of Roland Garros," said Nadal. [It] was a tough one, but I am through and I am very happy."

On his semi-final against Ferrer, Nadal said, "We [have] played each other a lot of times. His game bothers everybody because he's one of the best players in the world on every surface - on clay especially. He's a complete player. It's very difficult to play against him, because his movement is probably the best in the world and he's able to hit the ball very early a lot of the time." Nadal leads 15-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

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Nadal created his first break point opportunity at 5-5, advantage, but Almagro saved it with a volley winner. In the tie-break, Nadal raced into a 4-0 lead - with the fourth point lasting 34-strokes - before Almagro won his first point and worked his way back to a 4-5 deficit. Nadal held his nerve, however, to take the 62-minute opener.

Nadal took a 3-1 lead in the second set and converted his second break point opportunity of the 45-minute set with a break in the eighth game. Nadal won 18 of his 24 service points and hit 10 winners. Almagro committed 13 unforced errors to Nadal's five.

Nadal made his move at 4-3 in the 59-minute third set and clinched his 38th victory of 2012 with his fifth ace. He committed just 16 total unforced errors and won 84 per cent of his first service points. Almagro failed to convert any of his four break points and won 91 of 205 total points. Nadal now leads Almagro 8-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (6-0 on clay).

Nadal, who celebrated his 26th birthday on 3 June, has won three clay-court titles in the past couple of months. He lifted an eighth Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters trophy (d. Djokovic), a seventh Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Ferrer) crown and sixth piece of silverware at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia (d. Djokovic).

"I'm very happy with my tennis today," admitted Almagro. "I think I played one of the best matches I can play against Rafa, but he's the No. 1 in the world on this surface. The only thing I can say to you, [is that] I'm going to work a lot for the next time."

"He served really good today. I think at the important moments he served better... but I think the key of the match was [that] I had my chances and I didn't take them."

The 26-year-old Almagro dropped to a 28-7 record on clay courts this year, highlighted by two ATP World Tour titles at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo (d. Volandri) and the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur (d. Baker). He was looking to win his 200th clay-court match (199-95 lifetime) and reach his first major championship semi-final.

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