Nadal to face Djokovic, Federer beats Roddick

MADRID: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet for the third time in as many Masters events on Saturday after the duo swept to straight-sets quarter-final wins in Madrid on Friday.

World number one Nadal surprisingly trailed 0-4 in the second set against Spanish rival Fernando Verdasco, the seventh seed, but the king of clay stormed back for a 6-4, 7-5 win in a shade under two hours.

Third seed Djokovic, fighting to claw back his number three ranking from Scot Andy Murray, will again face Nadal on clay after losing to the Spaniard in the finals at Monte Carlo and Rome over the past month.

The Serbian reached his fourth consecutive Masters semi-final with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Croatian wild card Ivan Ljubicic.

Murray was hoping to celebrate a happy 22nd birthday when he faced Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro in the late-night match-up at the Magic Box arena.

The winner of that clash will tackle Roger Federer who was made to work before overcoming Andy Roddick 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, his 18th career win over his old American rival.

Nadal has now won 32nd consecutive matches on clay, a run stretching back to May last year when he lost to compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round in Rome.

The world number one stands 18-0 on clay this year with Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome trophys already claimed.

Since 2005, Nadal has compiled a remarkable 149-4 match record on clay, a run which includes four successive French Open titles.

After surrendering his 4-0 second set lead, Verdasco then saved two match points in the 10th game before Nadal eventually claimed victory with a concluding break on the first of three more match points.

Federer last lost to Roddick in Miami last year, a result which ended an 11-match winning streak. But the American has now lost three times in 2009 to the Swiss.

From a total of 20 career meetings, Federer has prevailed 18 times.

"I should have won in straights, but that's what happens sometimes when you play Andy. I bounced back in the third and played well," said Federer, still in search of his first trophy of 2009.

"I came up with some nice points. Those make me happy. I'm pleased with how I played."

Roddick was not unhappy with his first few days on clay after missing six weeks of the season to get married to US swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker.

"I got into two pretty tough matches here," said the former world number one, who has always had troubles on clay.

"Coming back after six weeks off on probably my least favourite surface could be worse. I'll have some time to hopefully get some practise in with some players of this calibre, but you can't replicate the world's best in practise.

"All in all, it was pretty good preparation and hopefully it can get better too. I have definitely felt worse going into the French Open before."