|Published:||Jun 06, 2012 7:05 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Jun 07, 2012 6:32 AM EDT|
PARIS (AP) - A rain shower stopped play at Roland Garros for a minute or two in the middle of Rafael Nadal's quarterfinal.
Nicolas Almagro? He couldn't do anything to slow Rafa at his favorite tournament.
Second-seeded Nadal defeated his fellow Spaniard 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3 on Wednesday to move to the French Open semifinals, two wins away from a record seventh title on the red clay of Paris.
Nadal, who shares the Roland Garros record with Bjorn Borg, hasn't lost a set through his first five matches this year. Against the 12th-seeded Almagro, he faced four break points but saved them all. He improved to 50-1 lifetime at Roland Garros, with the only loss coming to Robin Soderling in 2009.
"I was just trying to wait for my moments," Nadal said. "He had some good moments and he was hitting the ball hard, but I had my chances, too."
Nadal's next match will be against the winner of a quarterfinal between David Ferrer and Andy Murray that got delayed early in the third set when a bigger rain shower passed through, a few minutes after Nadal had left the court.
It means he'll have a few hours of extra rest before the semifinals Friday, though he hardly needs it. Including the 2 hours, 46 minutes he took to dispatch Almagro, Nadal has spent a grand total of 10 hours, 37 minutes on court. Novak Djokovic, by comparison, spent a combined 8 hours, 27 minutes grinding out his past two matches - five-set wins over Andreas Seppi and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Djokovic saved four match points in his win Tuesday against the Frenchman Tsonga and Nadal spent about as much time answering questions about that match as his own, which produced none of the drama.
"A player like Novak probably creates more chances to save tough matches like yesterday, where he's in a trouble situation," Nadal said. "He's fighting, putting another ball inside the court and puts pressure all the time against Tsonga."
In the match Wednesday, Almagro pushed Nadal in the first set, taking him to a tiebreaker and cutting a 5-1 deficit to 5-4. But Nadal responded by closing out the set with a big forehand down the line that Almagro couldn't handle, then a 121 mph serve that Almagro couldn't return.
Four times over the next two sets, Almagro had chances to break. He made unforced errors on two of them, including a big forehand that landed wide - "In my opinion, it was not the right ball to hit," Nadal said. Almagro also left an overhead short for an easy putaway and Nadal hit an unreturnable serve on the other break point.
Nothing to be ashamed of, though. Nadal has lost serve only once during the tournament and has saved 16 of 17 break points.
"His serve was really good today," Almagro said. "At the important moments, he served better than (he did) the rest of the match. The key of the match is I had my chances and I didn't catch it."
In the women's matches before Nadal played, second-seeded Maria Sharapova defeated 23rd-seeded Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2, 6-3 and the No. 4 seed, Petra Kvitova, beat 142nd-ranked qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Sharapova and Kvitova will meet Thursday in a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final, where Kvitova won her first Grand Slam tournament.