April 21, 2006

Federer and Nadal cruise into Monte Carlo semis

By Eric Salliot

MONTE CARLO (Reuters) - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were
one match away from their first clash of the season on Friday
after clinical wins in the Monte Carlo quarter-finals.

Swiss world number one Federer outclassed David Ferrer of
Spain 6-1 6-3 in just 61 minutes while defending champion and
number two Nadal defeated Argentine Guillermo Coria 6-2 6-1 on
Center Court.

Nadal will face Gaston Gaudio in the semi-finals after the
seventh-seeded Argentine, winner of the 2004 French Open,
defeated Spain's Tommy Robredo 6-1 6-3.

Federer will play Fernando Gonzalez of Chili, the number 12
seed, who beat fourth-seeded Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 7-5 6-1.

"I fought well today. I'm satisfied with my performance,"
said the 19-year-old Nadal, who missed the Australian Open won
by Federer through a left foot injury in January.

The French Open champion picked up his 40th consecutive win
on clay which puts him joint third with Austrian Thomas Muster
of Austria on the all-time list headed by Argentine Guillermo
Vilas who won 53 in a row.

"Gaudio is a real clay specialist and he played a very
impressive game against Robredo," Nadal said.

Coria, who won the Monte Carlo Open in 2004 and was Nadal's
final opponent last season, is also a staunch clay-court
baseline player but his only impact on the match was to lead
2-0 in the first set after an early break of serve.

Nadal won 11 games in a row to lead 6-2 5-0 before Coria
escaped an humiliating 6-0 defeat with a last-gasp effort and
saved two match points in the next game. The Spaniard sealed
the match on the third.

Federer clinched his quarter-final on his first match point
dominating eighth seed Ferrer throughout.

"It's my first tournament on clay but I have been
practicing with the French Open in mind for six months and I
felt well physically today," said the Swiss, who is still
chasing his first win at Roland Garros.