Rafael Nadal extended his unbeaten run on clay to 70 Friday and advanced to the semifinals of the Open Seat Godo by beating Potito Starace of Italy 6-2, 7-5. After dropping serve to Starace in the 10th game of the second set, the two-time defending champion immediately broke the Italian for the fourth time before serving out for victory. "I came out on top in the difficult moments," Nadal said. "The truth is I didn't feel great, especially in the second set when I had a few break point chances against me."
Top-seeded Nadal hasn't dropped a set on clay in 19 games as he goes for his 12th championship during the streak. He next plays David Ferrer of Spain who beat David Nalbandian of Argentina 7-6 (5), 6-2.
After no breaks of serve in the first set, the fifth-seeded Ferrer broke twice in the second set to improve to 4-0 on clay against the fourth-seeded Argentine.
"This year I'm playing consistently, I'm relaxed with my game and I think this is the best start to a season of my career," Ferrer said. "With Rafael Nadal as the opponent tomorrow, the title looks very far away but I'll bring everything without forgetting he is the favorite."
Ferrer has beaten Nadal only once in four meetings, on the clay surface at Stuttgart in 2004.
Guillermo Canas of Argentina also advanced after second-seeded Nikolay Davydenko withdrew ahead of their quarterfinals match due to injury.
The twelfth-seeded Canas, a finalist at Indian Wells, will face 15th-seeded Agustin Calleri of Argentina who beat Oscar Hernandez of Spain 6-0, 6-3.
Calleri broke Hernandez five times without dropping a single service game.