The Mutua Madrid Open has delivered two mouth-watering semi-finals, with Andy Murray set to face Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori set to square off against Novak Djokovic.
Murray was the first to book his place in the semi-finals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Tomas Berdych.
It was a pretty straightforward win for the second seed, who faced little pressure on serve and managed to convert three of four break points to wrap up the victory in just 78 minutes.
Awaiting him in Saturday’s semi-final is a resurgent Rafa Nadal, fresh off clay court titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
The Spaniard is starting to regain something like his old form, particularly on clay, although he did need three sets to get past Joao Sousa 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 on Friday.
After getting blanked in the first set, Sousa was much improved in the second, fending off three break points in the sixth game before breaking Nadal’s serve a couple of games later and leveling the scores at a set apiece.
But Nadal was able to regain his lost momentum in the decider, snaffling a single break to wrap up the victory, as Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo looked on from the stands.
Nishikori, meanwhile, reached the last four with a hard-fought 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 victory over Nick Kyrgios in two hours and 40 minutes.
Kyrgios has been one of the most improved players in 2016, winning his maiden title in Marseille in February, and pushed Nishikori to the brink before the Japanese star was able to prevail.
Nishikori must now contend with World No 1 Djokovic, who was a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Milos Raonic in the final quarter-final match of the day.
Raonic fought bravely, saving eight of 10 break points and often prolonging games as he refused to roll over without a fight, but it wasn’t enough to stop the world’s best tennis player on the day.