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Nadal reaches semi-finals in Marseille

Spain's Rafael Nadal reached the semi-finals by beating Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5 6-4.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 11:49 IST

Spain's Rafael Nadal reached the semi-finals of the Marseille Open by beating Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5 6-4.

The world number two, back this week after a four-month lay-off caused by a persistent foot injury, took one hour 43 minutes to tame Mathieu.

"I played well on the important points and I served well when it was needed," Nadal, 19, told reporters on Friday.

"I was a bit more aggressive and I broke his serve when I had the opportunity to.

"I am feeling better with every match," added the French Open champion.

Mathieu said Nadal's extra quality always shone through.

"Even if he has not played for quite some time, he is still the world number two and it showed tonight," Mathieu said. "He looked confident enough."

Nadal now meets another Frenchman, Arnaud Clement, who survived a tough challenge from veteran Fabrice Santoro.

Santoro, 33, who reached the last eight at the recent Australian Open, bowed out 7-5 4-6 7-6 to his compatriot.

"I was not far from my best tennis today," said Clement. "I'm really happy with my win and with the way I got it."

In an all-Croat tie, Mario Ancic edged past second seed Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 3-6 6-3.

"We knew it was going to be a tough match," said sixth seed Ancic. "I'm really satisfied to have beaten Ivan who is certainly with Roger Federer one of the best players in the world at the moment.

First Published: Feb 18, 2006 11:49 IST