Rafael Nadal sets up Novak Djokovic semi-final at Madrid Open

Defending champion Novak Djokovic claimed his first straight sets victory on clay this season as he ousted hometown hero Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 7-5, in the last 16 of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Andy Murray is in action later against Croatia's Borna Coric.

After failing to make the quarter-finals at the Monte-Carlo Masters, the 2015 French Open victor will be hoping for drastic improvement at the Internazionali d'Italia next week.

"Most things weren't working particularly well", Murray said. These skills, which has made him cruise towards victory effortessly, were once again on display in his last match against Nick Kyrgios. "I wasn't building any points really". I wasn't expecting myself to play well this week at all. "He was by far the better player".

The world number two stepped out onto Manolo Santana Court for only the second time without his tightly-knit coaching staff, having split with the trio before the tournament commenced at the beginning of the week.

A finalist in Madrid in 2014, Nishikori lost his last 10 matches against Djokovic, including in the semifinals in Madrid a year ago.

The world No. 75, who dipped down to the challenger tour after losing in the first round of the Australian Open earlier this year, then looked set for a monumental upset as he raced into a 3-0 lead in the decider.

Rafael Nadal also advanced after he too was taken to three sets by Italian Fabio Fognini.

"It was a handsome game, we both played at the very highest level and there were great points for everyone to see", Nadal told Spanish Television. It was uncomfortable. I think before it wasn't so windy, but when I started playing it was a really terrible day.

He will next play against sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, who defeated David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3 to deny the Spaniard his 700th career win.

(AP Photo/Paul White). CORRECTING SCORES: Novak Djokovic of Serbia sits between games during a Madrid Open tennis tournament match against to Nicolas Almagro of Spain in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

Nadal has made a storming start to the claycourt season, winning the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open for a record-extending 10th time last month.

At the end of 2016 he brought to an end his highly successful three-year relationship with coach Boris Becker, who upon leaving Djokovic's camp questioned the Serb's motivation and said he needed to work harder. I think I have some margin to do it even better tomorrow and step forward. "It's always tough to play with someone who has a big serve".

Romanian Simona Halep moved within one step of defending her Madrid Open crown, beating Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 6-3 in Friday's (Saturday NZT) semifinal clash.

Bouchard ousted Maria Sharapova in the second round.


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