Rafael Nadal moved two victories from his record seventh French Open tennis title, defeating fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in straight sets to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros.
The second-seeded Nadal next will face another countryman, David Ferrer, who reached the final four by ousting fourth- ranked Andy Murray of Britain in an error-strewn match.
Defending champion Nadal, 26, beat 12th-seeded Almagro 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-3 in drizzle yesterday on the main Court Philippe Chatrier and has yet to drop a set in this year’s tournament.
“Winning the first set is always important,” Nadal said in a news conference. “When you win the first set, you are able to play with a little bit more calm. Very, very happy to be in the semifinal again.”
Nadal, who made 16 unforced errors compared with Almagro’s 45, hasn’t won a major since he tied Bjorn Borg of Sweden last year at Roland Garros with a sixth title. Nadal’s record is now 50-1 at the French Open, his only defeat coming in 2009 when he lost in the fourth round to Sweden’s Robin Soderling. He’s on a 12-match winning run against Ferrer on clay courts.
The women’s semifinals are set for today. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic meets Maria Sharapova of Russia in one match, followed by reigning U.S. Open title holder Samantha Stosur of Australia against Italy’s Sara Errani, the No. 21 seed.
The sixth-seeded Ferrer, 30, beat Murray 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Murray, a semifinalist last year, made 59 unforced errors and lost his serve 10 times. He converted five of his 15 break points, while Ferrer was successful on 10 of 19 break points.
“I played some good tennis, had a lot of chances, didn’t convert,” Murray said in a news conference. “He’s so solid, so consistent. If you’re not converting the opportunity, the pressure can build on your own serve.”
The left-handed Kvitova, 22, came from behind to beat qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The fourth-seeded Kvitova is in the last four in Paris for the first time.
Sharapova eased past No. 23 seed Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2, 6-3 to reach her third French Open semifinal. The second seed has won the three other Grand Slam titles.
“It’s certainly nice to be in that position again,” Sharapova, 25, said in a news conference. “After a tough match in the previous round, I’m happy with the way I improved.”
Sharapova will reclaim the top world ranking if she wins today to reach her first French Open final. She was last No. 1 in 2008, before a shoulder injury forced her off the tour for nine months.
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