Tennis-Federer and Nadal cruise into Monte Carlo semis

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MONTE CARLO, Apr 21 (Reuters) Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were one match away from their first clash of the season today 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 Centre 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 practising 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.


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