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Nadal Outclasses Berdych In Madrid; Plays Bautista Agut In SFs

Madrid, Spain

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal is attempting to win his 44th clay crown this week.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal recorded his 17th straight win in 21 meetings against Tomas Berdych on Friday for a place in the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals.

Three-time champion Nadal defeated the sixth seed 6-4, 6-2 for his 28th match win of the season, which includes two ATP World Tour titles. He will next play Roberto Bautista Agut, who will be making his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final appearance.

Berdych appeared to hold the upper hand in the first six games, before Nadal’s forehand potency reaped dividends with a break of serve to 30 in the seventh game.

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A thunderous forehand winner at 1-1 in the second game gave Nadal his second break of serve. He broke Berdych for a 5-2 lead and finished with his fourth ace of the match, which lasted 88 minutes.

“It was a match with a lot of intensity, and perhaps it was my toughest match in the tournament,” said Nadal. “I knew that I had to go a step forward [level-wise]. I think that I did it pretty well. I played pretty well during a long time. To make it to the semi-finals for first time in the clay season, here in Madrid, is great news for me.”

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Nadal won this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in 2005 (d. Ljubicic), 2010 (d. Federer) and 2013 (d. Wawrinka). He has won 43 clay-court crowns during his career.

Berdych, who was appearing in his 30th quarter-final at Masters 1000-level, came into the event on the back of a runner-up finish at the Portugal Open in Oeiras (l. to Berlocq). 

Bautista Agut knocked out Andy Murray’s third-round conqueror, Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo, 6-3, 6-4 in 87 minutes. He will appear in his fourth ATP World Tour semi-final on Saturday, and will jump from No. 45 in the Emirates ATP Rankings into the Top 30 for the first time by reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final.

"I'm really happy for it being here in Madrid and [to make] it to the semi-finals, playing against one of the best players of history," said Bautista Agut, the fourth unseeded Madrid semi-finalist in the past five years. "I am very happy for the current moment that I have, for the tennis that I am playing right now, and especially for being just well."

The 26 year old has recorded two Top 10 victories this season, defeating Juan Martin del Potro at the Australian Open and Tomas Berdych in Indian Wells, and attributed his recent success to confidence from winning those matches early in the year.

"[I am] able to go into these matches with a lot of confidence, playing my tennis and with less pressure than what I would normally have," he said.

Should David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez win their matches Friday evening, it would mark the first time in Masters 1000 history (since 1990) that four Spaniards are in the semi-finals. The last time four Spaniards reached the semi-finals on the ATP World Tour came in Valencia in April 2004 (Albert Montanes d. Alberto Martin, Fernando Verdasco d. Juan Carlos Ferrero).

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