Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet became the semifinalists of the Rome Masters and ensured some enticing matches in the build up to the final.
World number one Nadal cruised against Marin Cilic with a 6-1 6-3 win, and in doing so ensured that he would go into the French Open as World number one, holding off the in-form Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard will face Richard Gasquet in the semis after the Frenchman got past Tomas Berdych 4-6 6-2 6-4.
It took Nadal an hour and 25 minutes to beat Cilic. It was a clinical performance from the world number one who almost withdrew from the tournament with a virus in the previous match. Afterwards, he said, I was lucky, I felt much better today. Yesterday afternoon I had fever but it improved at the end of the day. I still had a bit of fever this morning but it was fine before the match.
I improved today more than a little bit, I played better. First of all, to win a tournament you have to play well every day. I'm in the semis now. I've played three finals in a row on clay, I won two and lost one and now I'm in the semis again and that's very positive for me.
If Nadal had withdrawn, he could have been displaced at the top of the world rankings, given Djokovic's form. However, when queried, Nadal insisted that the threat of losing the number one spot didn't influence his decision to play on.
It was a tough decision to make because Roland Garros is very important for me, he said, but I love this tournament along with Barcelona and Monte Carlo. It's a special time of the year.
The highlight battle, however, is the other semifinal in which Andy Murray, who beat Germany's Florian Mayer 1-6 6-1 6-1, will attempt to put an end to Djokovic's 37-match unbeaten run.
The Serb got past Robin Soderling 6-3 6-0 despite being broken in the very first game of the match. He will face a confident Murray who said he could put an end to Djokovic's run.
It would be great to end Novak's unbeaten run. I feel confident and I think I can beat him.