MADRID May 9 Rafa Nadal swept into the last four of the Madrid Open on Friday when he thumped Tomas Berdych 6-4 6-2 to set up a semi-final against unseeded Spanish compatriot Roberto Bautista or Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo.
World number one Nadal has not been his dominant best on his favoured clay this year, losing in the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, but had a relatively easy ride against the outclassed Czech sixth seed, whom he has now beaten 18 times in 21 meetings on all surfaces.
Nadal broke the Berdych serve three times without losing his own and with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic withdrawing and Andy Murray knocked out on Thursday he remains firmly on course for a fourth Madrid Masters crown.
In Friday's other quarter-finals, Spaniard David Ferrer, the fifth seed, plays unseeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis and 10th-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori takes on another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez.
It is the first time in tournament history, since 2002, that Spain has four players in the last eight and Bautista is through to his first Masters quarter-final. (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ed Osmond)