Nadal cruises through in Madrid

Rafael Nadal set up a potential semi-final meeting with rival Roger Federer as he beat Michael Llodra in the last eight of the Madrid Open.

Rafael Nadal set up a potential semi-final meeting with rival Roger Federer as he beat Michael Llodra in the last eight of the Madrid Open.

The world number one won the first four games of the first set and the last five of the second in claiming a routine 6-2 6-2 win.

Llodra was completely overwhelmed from the word go as Nadal raced into a 4-0 lead.

And though the Frenchman finally got on the board as he held to make it 4-1, he could make no impression on the Nadal serve, failing to earn a single break point as the Spaniard took it 6-2.

Llodra began the second set positively with successive holds, but a careless backhand volley from the Frenchman and a sublime instinctive half-volley down the line helped Nadal to break in game five for a 3-2 lead.

Nadal held to love in the next game to drive home his advantage, then broke again to put himself on the brink.

And though Llodra saved two match points in the next game, he sent a backhand long to hand Nadal a semi-final against either Federer or world number four Robin Soderling.

Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci continued his fine run by beating seventh seed Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7/2) 6-3.

Bellucci, who beat fourth seed Andy Murray yesterday, will play either David Ferrer or Novak Djokovic in the semis.

In the women’s event, fourth seed Victoria Azarenka was a 6-3 3-6 6-2 winner over Lucie Safarova, while Julia Goerges, who beat world number one Caroline Wozniacki yesterday, saw off Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 6-2.

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