Rafael Nadal wins, Serena Williams pulls out in Madrid

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Madrid, Spain (4E Sports) – World No. 1 and three-time champion Rafael Nadal booked a spot in the Madrid Open semifinal after beating sixth seed Tomas Berdych, 6-4, 6-2, Friday.

Nadal defeated Berdych for the 17th straight time in 21 meetings in just 88 minutes for his 28th match win of the season, which includes two ATP World Tour titles.

He will next play Roberto Bautista Agut, who will be making his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal appearance.

“It was a match with a lot of intensity, and perhaps it was my toughest match in the tournament,” said Nadal. “I knew that I had to go a step forward [level-wise]. I think that I did it pretty well.”

Nadal won this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in 2005, 2010 and 2013. He has won 43 clay-court crowns during his career.

Bautista Agut knocked out qualifier Santiago Giraldo, 6-3, 6-4, in 87 minutes to clinch his fourth ATP World Tour semifinal appearance Saturday.

Meanwhile, David Ferrer defeated Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 to advance to the semifinal against the winner of the Feliciano Lopez-Kei Nishikori clash.

On the women’s side, world No. 1 and two-time defending champion Serena Williams pulled out of the tournament due to a left thigh injury.

Williams was hurt during a first-round win over Swiss qualifier Belinda Bencic Sunday, but continued to play and won two more matches in straight sets before deciding to withdraw prior to her scheduled quarterfinal against Petra Kvitova.

“I have a left thigh injury and, unfortunately, have to withdraw from this year’s Mutua Madrid Open,” Williams said in a statement Friday. “It happened during my first round match. It started to get better, but most importantly right now, I just need some time to rest and recover.”

“It’s beyond words. It’s so frustrating,” added Williams, who plans to play next week in Rome. “We couldn’t ask for a better tournament and I love it here in Madrid. I love being a champion here. This is not the way I wanted this week to end.”

Kvitova received a free ride into the semifinals, where she’ll meet Simona Halep, who defeated 11th seed Ana Ivanovic, 6-2, 6-2

Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova downed Li Na, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, to advance against Agnieszka Radwanska, a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 winner over Caroline Garcia.

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