Madrid - Tomas Berdych brought local favourite Fernando Verdasco crashing back to earth when he thrashed the 15th seed 6-1 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open on Friday.
Verdasco came into the match on the blue clay of the Manolo Santana show court on a high after dumping out second seed Rafa Nadal on Thursday, his first victory over his Spanish compatriot in 14 attempts.
However, sixth-seeded Czech Berdych, who thumped French 12th seed Gael Monfils 6-1 6-1 to reach the last eight, comfortably ended a two-match losing streak to Verdasco on clay to set up a semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro.
The 2009 U.S. Open champion, undefeated in 10 clay matches this season and winner in Estoril last week, eased to a 6-3 6-4 victory against Ukrainian 16th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov in the earlier match on court three.
"I am really happy with my tennis, with my body and I am feeling really confident on clay," Del Potro, who had an eight-month layoff in 2010 due to a wrist injury, told a news conference.
"I don't feel any pain so it's a good sign for the next tournament and I think I'm getting better tournament by tournament," the 23-year-old added.
World number one Novak Djokovic, who has joined Nadal in threatening to boycott the event next year because of what they say are dangerously slippery courts, meets Serb compatriot Janko Tipsarevic, the seventh seed, later on Friday.
Victory for the defending champion will set up a semi-final clash against Swiss third seed Roger Federer, who will rise above Nadal to number two if he wins the title, or Spanish fifth seed David Ferrer.