Madrid Masters - Del Potro, Berdych into semis
Juan Martin Del Potro continued his fine form on blue clay with a 6-3 6-4 straight sets victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov for a place in the Madrid Masters last four against Tomas Berdych, who defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-1 6-2.
Del Potro broke his Ukrainian opponent three times over the two sets, with the 16th seed's timid service often threatened by the fluid cross-court returns of the Argentine.
Dolgopolov looked more assured returning to world number 10 Del Potro than he did with the ball in hand, but only managed to break him once - for 3-4 in the opening set with some excellent backhand play.
However, in the very next game the opportunity to fight back to parity was gone as Del Potro completed the double-break which set him on his way to the first set.
The Argentine held throughout the second, and made the important breakthrough in the fifth game, breaking Dolgopolov to love.
And though the 23-year-old's serve improved from there, he was unable to find enough when returning to break back and deny Del Potro his place in the semi-finals.
"I am really happy with my tennis, with my body and I am feeling really confident on clay," said Del Potro who had an eight-month lay-off in 2010 due to a wrist injury.
"I don't feel any pain so it's a good sign for the next tournament and I think I'm getting better tournament by tournament," the 23-year-old added.
Standing between Del Potro and a place in the final is Tomas Berdych, who was equally impressive with a straight sets win of his own over Madrid's own Fernando Verdasco.
The sixth seed found a double-break in each set up against the disappointing serve of the Spaniard, holding his own from start to finish in little over an hour's play.
World number 15 Verdasco was unable to get off to the flying start which put him one set up against compatriot Nadal in the third round, at times finding the Czech's forehand returns too much to handle.
And though there was slightly more success to be found in the second as Verdasco drew Berdych into longer rallies and held firm for unforced errors, the second double-break came in the penultimate game of the contest and led to a thrilling finale.
Verdasco returned well to pick up the first two points, only for bad luck and frustration to allow Berdych back in for a match point which he took with more excellent stretching of his opponent from the first and second serve.