Rampant Nadal breezes into Barcelona semi-finals
World number one Rafael Nadal was untroubled as he hammered France's Gael Monfils 6-2 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open.
The Spaniard's returning game proved too strong for the seventh seed, who connected with 84% of first serves but won only 56% of those points as he was broken twice in each set.
The win continues an extraordinary record for Nadal at the tournament. He has won the title five times in succession from 2005 and has dropped only two sets since his second-round elimination to Alex Corretja in 2003.
He will face Croatia's Ivan Dodig, who will be well prepared after beating another Spanish left-hander in Feliciano Lopez. Dodig was broken twice during a second-set blip but prevailed 6-4 2-6 6-4 in the kind of battling performance he will need if he is to counter Nadal's ferocious groundstrokes.
“It's been a great week for me,” said the world number 56. “I've played some great matches and I'm really looking forward to playing one more match.”
Dodig's victory staved off an all-Spanish last-four line-up, with the second semi pitting David Ferrer against Nicolas Almagro.
Ferrer repeated his Monte Carlo Masters semi-final win over Austrian Jurgen Melzer, triumphing 6-3 6-3 to advance to within one match of a second successive final.
Almagro overcame compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero by the same scoreline, breaking serve five times to two in the 65-minute encounter.
Meanwhile, former No.1 Dinara Safina overcame Anastasia Pivovarova 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in a match featuring 18 breaks of serve to reach the semi-finals of the Grand Prix SAR. Safina reached her first semi-final since the Cincinnati Open in August 2009 — the year Safina lost in two Grand Slam finals at the Australian and French Open.