May 27, 2018
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Nadal, Federer win to set Madrid semifinal match

By PAUL LOGOTHETIS, The Associated Press

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

Nadal scored a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Michael Llodra, while Federer held off Robin Soderling 7-6 (2), 6-4.

In women’s matches, Julia Goerges, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na and Petra Kvitova advanced to the semifinals.

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

Nadal broke Llodra for the first of four times in the opening game and didn’t have to defend a single break point on serve. 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, with Soderling saving three set points before succumbing to the third-ranked Federer in a tiebreaker.

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

“Conditions were tough today, I didn’t know we could get such wind in a closed stadium,” Federer said. “But I thought I played a great match from start to finish.”

Federer is 8-15 overall against Nadal and 2-10 on clay.

“I’m excited, I’m playing Rafa here in the next round,” he said. “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.”

Earlier, Thomaz Bellucci topped Tomas Berdych 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach the last four. The Brazilian followed up on his third-round victory over Andy Murray.

The 36th-ranked Bellucci was dominant on serve, winning 85 percent of first-serve points. He didn’t face a break point against the seventh-ranked Czech.

“The conditions on these courts are perfect for me,” said Bellucci, who will play either second-ranked Novak Djokovic or David Ferrer next. “I like playing here.”

Australian Open finalist Li of China defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to play Kvitova in the last four. The Czech player edged Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Goerges defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-2 for her 10th straight win to reach the semifinals.

The German had six aces, held every game and broke her Russian opponent three times. Goerges defeated top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the Porsche Grand Prix final last month.

The 27th-ranked Goerges will play the fourth-seeded Azarenka of Belarus, who beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.


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