BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Rafael Nadal, who is gunning for a record-tying 46th clay-court title, surged into the semi-finals of the Argentina Open on Friday with a 6-1, 6-1 rout of Federico Delbonis.
The world number four Nadal will face Carlos Berlocq for a berth in the final of the ATP Tour tournament. Nadal, who is playing in this event for the first time in 10 years, has won all three previous matches with Berlocq.
Nadal needed just 62 minutes to dispatch fellow left-hander Delbonis as the Spanish star capitalized on five of his nine break-point chances in the quarter-final contest.
Nadal last played in this event in 2005, when he lost in the quarters to Gaston Gaudio. Nadal is seeking his 65th career singles crown.
Earlier, Argentina s Berlocq notched his second career win over Slovenia s Blaz Rola, reaching the final four with a convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory.
The 32-year-old Berlocq broke Rola on six of his 11 chances in the 79-minute match to reach his first semi-final since last July.
Juan Monaco kept his bid for a second title in Buenos Aires alive with a 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 win over third-seeded Pablo Cuevas.
Monaco, who won the title in 2007, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set before Cuevas fought back to force a decider. Monaco would get another chance to serve for the contest in the third and final set.
“It was a relief because it was a difficult and long match,” said Monaco. “I celebrated the way I did because I enjoy it. Having such feelings is what I missed most about tennis.
“I am very motivated because I have the opportunity to play a final again and here in Buenos Aires. That excites me a lot and I hope to play the best way to win tomorrow.”