BARCELONA // Rafael Nadal quickly overcame French seventh seed Gael Monfils with a 6-2, 6-2 quarter-final victory yesterday which put the five-time champion into his accustomed weekend place at the Barcelona Open.
Spaniards have dominated for the past decade, with only a 2002 title from Argentine Gaston Gaudio interrupting Iberian success dating to Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2001.
Nadal took just 75 minutes to post his 32nd consecutive victory on clay; he last lost on the surface against Robin Soderling at the 2009 French Open fourth round.
"A 6-2, 6-2 is very positive, it's more than I expected," said the winner.
"To win Monte Carlo last week and now to be in the Barcelona semi-finals, it's really positive.
"I couldn't have started the clay season any better, but I have to keep on working."
In other matches yesterday at the Real Club de Tenis, Nadal's fellow Spaniard and fourth seed, David Ferrer, also booked his semi-final spot with a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over Jurgen Melzer, the Austrian.
Nadal, the Spanish world No 1 will face Ivan Dodig in the semi-finals. The Croatian world No 56 survived a second-set wobble and caused a minor upset by defeating yet another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Ferrer will face Nicolas Almagro in the second semi-final after the 25-year-old world No 11 saw off Spanish compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-3 in last night's final match.
Nadal has stormed through the field so far this year, losing just ten games in three matches.
He has eight wins from nine meetings with Monfils, who was playing in only his second event since a wrist injury forced him out in February.
Nadal improved to 28-1 in Barcelona as he was untroubled by Monfils on a grey cloudy day after morning rain which produced the heavy clay conditions so favoured by Nadal. The Spaniard never faced a break point in the one-way contest while breaking Monfils four times.