Federer, Nadal roll on into Hamburg semis
Rafael Nadal beat Fernando Gonzalez for the second time in five days, 6-40, 6-4, in the Hamburg Masters quarter-finals to stretch his clay court winning streak to 80 matches.
World No 2 Nadal was not quite as dominant on Friday as in his 6-2, 6-2 win in Sunday's Rome final, but was still never seriously endangered by his Chilean rival en route to victory in 1 hour 38 minutes.
The Hamburg tournament is close to its dream final as world No 1 Roger Federer also made the final four, winning his 15th straight match at the venue, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, over Spanish 12 seed David Ferrer.
In the semis, the three-time Hamburg champion Federer plays his third Spanish opponent in a row in former French Open champion Carlos Moya.
Moya outlasted fourth-seeded Serbian teenager Novak Djokovic, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-5, in 2.40 hours to make the Hamburg semis for the second time since 1999, saving two set points in the first set.
"It is always special to play Roger. I feel tired, but I will have a good rest and will be ready for the match," said Moya.
Nadal meets 16 seed Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, who stopped Spanish world number 52 Nicolas Almagro, 6-3, 6-4, to make the semis like in his last Hamburg showing in 2004.
In a classy match under sunny Hamburg skies, Nadal broke for 2-1 to take the opening set against the Olympic doubles champion Gonzalez.
He allowed Gonzalez to fight from 2-0 down to 2-2 in the second, but broke again for 3-2 and served out the match in the 10th game.
Nadal levelled the series with Gonzalez at 3-3 with a forehand winner on first match point.
"I feel very comfortable with my game. I am proud of it," said Nadal.
Nadal is playing in Hamburg for the first time since 2003 and after wins in Monte Carlo and Rome is aiming for an unprecedented sweep of the clay Masters titles in one year.
Having lifted the trophy in 2002, 2004 and 2005 - he didn't play in 2006 - Federer is the crowd favourite and on Friday there was even a small airplane circling above with the slogan "Go, Roger, Go."
Federer said that he had "no idea who that was," but duly got his seventh win in as many meetings with Ferrer, even though he dropped a set for the first time against the Spaniard.
"I didn't serve great in the second set, thank God it got better again in the third. You also shouldn't forget that he is one of the best return in the game," said Federer of his problems.
The strange set saw seven breaks of serve, with Federer dropping serve on four occasions, throwing away a 4-2 advantage and ending the set with a backhand error.
Luck and experience brought Federer back on track in the final set. A net cord and an ace allowed him to hold for 4-3, he broke for 5-3 in a long game and then served out the match at love in the next game.
"The net cord was huge in the end. It was a good match for me to win," said Federer.
The Swiss won the Australian Open and Dubai, but has failed to lift a trophy in his last four events. Federer crashed out in the third round in Rome last week and on Saturday fired coach Tony Roche.