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Nadal & Roddick To Clash In Semi-finals

Miami, USA

Rafael Nadal - Sony Ericsson Open - Miami 2010© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal celebrates breaking Tsonga on match point.

Rafael Nadal is closer to snapping his 11-month title drought after racing into the Sony Ericsson Open semi-finals with an impressive win over Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Wednesday night in Miami. Nadal saved all eight break points he faced en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory, which set up a semi-final showdown with 2004 champion Andy Roddick.

Playing before yet another session-record crowd of 13,580, Nadal saved four break points in the first set – including three in his opening service game – to keep the powerful Tsonga on the defensive. The six-time Grand Slam champion and two-time Sony Ericsson Open finalist was particularly animated after hitting a sizzling forehand cross-court winner past Tsonga at the net to close out the match.

Clearly, the Spaniard is delighted with his form in just his second tournament back from a knee injury, which sidelined him for the month of February. Nadal also reached the semi-finals two weeks ago in Indian Wells.

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Nadal, who will return to No. 3 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on Monday regardless of his finish at the Sony Ericsson Open, is looking for his first title since April last year, when he won his 15th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Rome.  A winner of 36 tour-level titles, Nadal has reached just one final in 2010 – in the first week of the year in Doha.

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Nadal said that he was inspired by the full, passionate crowd that watched the match. “It's amazing going on court with this atmosphere.  Full court. Crowd was always very emotional here. I'm very happy to play at this level tonight against very difficult opponent like Jo.  It's very important victory for me.  I'm very happy for that." 

Looking ahead to his clash with Roddick, Nadal said: “When you play against Andy [it] always is a big challenge.  His serve, and he's a very good competitor.  He's a winner.  Gonna be very tough match, no?  I think I have to play my best tennis to try to win."

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