Nadal sinks Almagro
Madrid - Rafael Nadal dropped his first set of the week but recovered to record a stirring 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 defeat of fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro to reach his second successive Madrid Masters final here on Saturday.
Roger Federer was playing later against Spain's David Ferrer with the Swiss trying to set up a repeat of the final which he won at the Caja Magica over Nadal in 2009.
That clay victory for Federer was just the confidence booster the Swiss required to propel him to his first-ever French Open title three weeks later at Roland Garros.
Nadal stands one victory away from his third Masters 1000 crown of the season after winning Monte Carlo and Rome. Another title at the elite ATP level would give him a record 18 for his career, one more than Andre Agassi or Federer.
The event marked the third time in three spring tournaments that a trio of Spaniards have dominated Masters 1000 semi-finals after Monte Carlo and Rome.
Nadal improved to 14-0 on clay this season and will now return to world number two behind Federer by virtue of reaching the final.
Nadal rallied after dropping his serve three times in the opening set against Almagro, a winner this week over French Open finalist Robin Soderling, Nadal's Paris conqueror a year ago in the fourth round.
The second seed from Mallorca powered through the second set in typical style and went up a break in the third to drain the life out of Almagro's challenge.
Nadal raced away to 4-1 in the deciding set and broke for victory in the final game as Almagro saved a match point before going down in two and a quarter hours.
Nadal earned his sixth victory without defeat against Almagro, the world number 35 whose last title came on clay in 2009 in Mexico.