Nadal steamrolls Berdych to advance to Madrid semis

Madrid, May 9 (EFE).- Spain's Rafael Nadal erased some doubts about his clay-court form ahead of this year's French Open, dominating world No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2 Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Madrid Masters.

Nadal had uncharacteristically struggled thus far in the European clay-court season, losing in the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open to fellow Spaniards David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro, respectively.

But Nadal looked as sharp as ever against Berdych, blasting forehand winners, moving crisply and serving effectively throughout the one-hour and 27-minute match.

The world No. 1 staved off the lone break point he faced in the match in the opening game and also showed some unusual power, striking one first serve at 213 kph (132 mph).

By contrast, Berdych failed to control his service games despite putting 70 percent of his first serves in play, winning just 58 percent of his service points overall and getting broken on three occasions.

Next up for Nadal in the semifinals will be the winner of Friday's quarterfinal match between 46th-ranked Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut and Colombia's Santiago Giraldo.

The remaining men's quarterfinal matches Friday will pit Spain's David Ferrer against Latvia's Ernests Gulbis and Spain's Feliciano Lopez against Japan's Kei Nishikori.

In women's singles, American world No. 1 Serena Williams withdrew from her Friday quarterfinal match against the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova due to a thigh strain.

The Madrid tournament is one of the biggest clay-court events on the ATP and WTA calendars and a major tune-up for the French Open, which gets underway on May 25.