Top seed Nadal through to last four in Madrid

Madrid: World number one Rafa Nadal cleared the latest hurdle on his quest for a third clay-court title in under a month when he overpowered Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-2 6-2 on Friday to reach the Madrid Open semi-finals.

The 24-year-old Spaniard, defending champion at the Magic Box arena in the Spanish capital, recorded back-to-back victories on his favourite surface at the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open in April.

His victory over the unseeded Llodra was his 36th straight success on the red dirt since falling to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open in 2009.

Nadal, who reclaimed the title at Roland Garros last year, could face Soderling in the last four if the Swede can get past Roger Federer later on Friday.

Tomas Berdych, the seventh seed, suffered an upset in the opening quarter-final when he was beaten by unseeded Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 7-6 6-3.

Bellucci, a stylish left-hander and the world number 36, will play second seed Novak Djokovic or Spaniard David Ferrer, runner-up to Nadal in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, for a place in Sunday`s final.

Serb Djokovic has won 31 straight matches going back to December`s Davis Cup final.

Bureau Report