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Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 17:25 UK

Impressive Nadal romps into semis

Rafael Nadal
Nadal is unbeaten on clay since May 2008

Rafael Nadal beat Nicolas Lapentti and Ivan Ljubicic on Friday to ease into the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals.

The world number one returned early on Friday to complete his rain-delayed third-round match against Ecuadorian Lapentti and cruised to a 6-3 6-0 win.

In the afternoon he eased past Croatian wildcard Ljubicic 6-3 6-3 and he will now play Andy Murray in the last four.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic beat Fernando Verdasco 6-2 4-6 6-3 and will play Stanislas Wawrinka in the semi-finals.

In the early match, which was held over from Thursday because of rain, Nadal had an easy time as he secured his 24th straight victory.

That set up the afternoon match against Ljubicic, the world number 66, who had beaten Italian Simone Bolelli 7-5 7-6 (7-2) in just under two hours.

While Nadal appeared somewhat rusty in the previous round against Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela, he showed signs of edging back to his powerful, fluent best towards the end of his match with world number 98 Lapentti .

Lapentti led 1-0 in the first set when rain halted play on Thursday but, once Nadal had broken in the fifth game and held for a 4-2 lead, he never looked back.

Meanwhile, Switzerland's Wawrinka, the 13th seed, booked his semi-final place with a straightforward 6-2 6-4 win over Germany's Andreas Beck.

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see also
Monte Carlo photos
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Murray reaches first semi on clay
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Murray v Davydenko as it happened
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Murray v Fognini as it happened
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Serve letting me down - Federer
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Nadal & Federer win clay openers
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Murray opens clay season with win
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Rivals still fearful of Federer
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