Barcelona - Rafael Nadal brushed aside Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 6-2 on Friday to advance to the Barcelona Open semi-finals, while Milos Raonic served 14 aces on his way to eliminating second-seeded Andy Murray in straight sets.
The top-seeded Nadal was in vintage form, moving his Serbian opponent all around the red-clay court with his powerful forehand.
The second-ranked Spaniard broke Tipsarevic in his first service game to set the tone for his 32nd consecutive win at the tournament. Tipsarevic earned three break points in the last game of the first set, but Nadal recovered to win five straight points.
Nadal was broken for the first time to make it 2-2 in the second set, giving the fifth-seeded Tipsarevic a glint of hope. But the local favourite rebounded to win the next four games, capping a dominating performance with two straight aces to close out the match in 1 hour, 23 minutes.
"In the first set I was playing really well, and then at the start of the second he attacked more while I left my shots short," Nadal said. "But I am satisfied with the match. I am in the semi-finals again. Tomorrow I will have to play at my highest level."
Nadal, a six-time champion at the tournament, will face fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco after Kei Nishikori of Japan was forced to retire with an injury when trailing 4-2 in the first set.
Raonic, who trains at the Real Club de Tenis, used his strong forehand to beat Murray 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
The 11th-seeded Canadian broke the fourth-ranked Murray to lead 4-3 and then set up a set point with an ace before smacking a forehand down the line to take the first set.
Murray managed only four points on Raonic's serve in the first set and continued to struggle on the return in the second. But Murray broke Raonic when the Canadian served for the match before losing in the tie-breaker.
"It's very, very difficult and a big plus in confidence for me," Raonic said. "Clay's not his best surface, but he consistently does well on it. Last year he reached the semi-finals at the French Open, Monte Carlo and Rome, so he can play really well on it. For me, it was a big win, regardless of the surface."
Raonic is one win away from his fourth final of the season. He will next face David Ferrer, who saved three match points while rallying to beat Feliciano Lopez 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.
After saving a pair of match points, Ferrer battled back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set tie-breaker, aided by Lopez returning his third match point long.
"It was a very tough match where both players had good chances. I knew if I fought I could win," Ferrer said after reaching the semi-finals in Barcelona for the sixth time. "It was our best game on clay. Feli made it very difficult for me."
Results from the fifth day of the Barcelona Open tournament on Friday (x denotes seeding):
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Janko Tipsarevic (SRB x5) 6-2, 6-2
Fernando Verdasco (ESP x9) bt Kei Nishikori (JPN x8) 4-2 - retired
Milos Raonic (CAN x11) bt Andy Murray (GBR x2) 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)
David Ferrer (ESP x3) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP x7) 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (9/7), 6-3