Ruthless Rafa fires his friend, Murray out

(Reuters) - There is a reason why Rafa Nadal is called "the Boss" by Nicolas Almagro and on Wednesday the ruthless claycourt king fired his fellow-Spaniard in his pursuit of a record seventh Roland Garros title.

Nadal defeated Almagro 7-6 6-2 6-3 to put another Spaniard David Ferrer in the firing line in Friday's French Open semi-finals.

Nadal called his friend Almagro "one of the best players of the world".

His generosity, however, was nowhere to be seen on the court. He teased Almagro during a close first set and then moved in for the kill, finishing off his opponent with his 10th ace of the match.

Ferrer made it through to his first Paris semi at the ripe old age of 30 after bouncing out British world number four Andy Murray 6-4 6-7 6-3 6-2 on a soggy day in the French capital.

So how did the sixth seed rate his chances of reaching Sunday's final?

"Winning a match against Rafa is almost impossible," he summed up bluntly.

At least Ferrer struck a blow for the 30-somethings. By joining Roger Federer, who turns 31 in August, in the last four, it is the first time since 1969 that two 30-year-olds have made it to the same stage at Roland Garros.

At 25, age was on Murray's side but unfortunately he failed to make that count.

The Briton, a semi-finalist last year, has never beaten a Spaniard on red dirt.

Maria Sharapova crept closer to fulfilling her burning desire to hold aloft the Suzanne Lenglen Cup by setting up a French Open semi-final date with Petra Kvitova.

Sharapova was greeted with menacing clouds and even a brief shower burst on Philippe Chatrier Court but performed a quick rain dance to slide into the last four with a 6-2 6-3 win over Estonian Kaia Kanepi.

The Czech hauled herself back from 2-4 down in the final set before finally ending the adventure of 142nd-ranked Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6 6-2 6-4 to set up a meeting with the woman she beat in last year's Wimbledon final.


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