June 1 (Bloomberg) -- Rafael Nadal moved within two wins of his record-tying sixth French Open championship with a straight- set quarterfinal victory over Robin Soderling, the only player to beat him in Paris.
The top-seeded Nadal of Spain beat Soderling, the fifth seed from Sweden, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) in a rematch of last year’s final. The win means Nadal retains the No. 1 spot in the ATP World Tour rankings.
“I am very happy to make the semifinals once again,” Nadal said in a courtside interview. “Today was a very important victory for me. I had a very good level, and Robin had a few more mistakes than usual.”
Nadal is now 43-1 at the French Open, his lone loss coming against Soderling in the fourth round two years ago. He next plays No. 4 Andy Murray of Britain, who beat Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6 (7-2), 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals in two days.
Li Na and Maria Sharapova also won in straight sets to set up a women’s semifinal meeting.
The sixth-seeded Li defeated fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5, 6-2 to become the first Chinese player in the semifinals at Roland Garros. Sharapova, the seventh seed from Russia, beat No. 15 Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-0, 6-3.
“I never think I could play semis in Roland Garros,” Li, whose previous best finish in Paris was the fourth round two years ago, said in a news conference. “I think I can play in the other three, but never think about Roland Garros.”
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