Madrid, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Spanish hero and three-time champion Rafael Nadal and his fellow countryman David Ferrer were a pair of easy quarterfinal winners Friday at the $5 million Madrid Open, an ATP Masters 1000 event.
The world No. 1 superstar Nadal blew past sixth-seeded Czech slugger Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2 on the red clay at the Magic Box.
Nadal, who also beat last week's Portugal Open runner-up Berdych in the 2010 Wimbledon finale, has now won 17 straight matches in their lopsided lifetime series (18-3).
"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."
Nadal, who failed to title in his last two clay court events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, beat Swiss Stan Wawrinka in last year's final in Madrid.
In addition to his titles in 2005, 2010 and last year, the record 26-time Masters champion Nadal was also a runner-up in the Spanish capital in 2009 and 2011.
The reigning French and U.S. Open titlist will face fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in Saturday's semifinals. The rising Bautista Agut handled Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4 at this Roland Garros tune-up and will now appear in his first-ever Masters semi.
Meanwhile, a fifth-seeded Ferrer, who was last year's French Open runner-up to Nadal, got past talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 on Day 6.
Tenth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan awaits Ferrer in the semifinals after claiming a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in Friday's nightcap.
The victory will vault Nishikori into the top 10 in the Emirates ATP rankings when they are released Monday, making the 24-year-old the first player from Japan to move into the top 10 and the first Asian player since Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan on March 29, 2004.