MADRID (AP) Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal will meet again in the semifinals of the Madrid Open on Saturday, a rematch of last year's final won by the British player.
The second-ranked Murray defeated Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2 on Friday to make the last four for the second consecutive Masters tournament on clay, while Nadal had to fight hard to get past Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-0, 4-6, 6-3.
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, celebrating her 27th birthday, reached the women's final by beating American qualifier Louisa Chirico 6-1, 6-1 in less than an hour. She will play either Simona Halep or Samantha Stosur.
Murray had to play under a closed roof at the ''Magic Box'' center court because of rain.
''They were different conditions, playing under the roof, and I've adjusted to them well,'' said Murray, who never faced a break point. ''That was the most pleasant thing for me, because I've only played maybe three or four indoor clay matches in my life. Not easy conditions, against a tough opponent, and I played well.''
The roof was open when Nadal started, but it had to be closed in the second set. The interval didn't help the Spaniard, who cruised in the first set but saw the 35th-ranked Portuguese rally back in the second.
Seeking his third title of the season, as many as he won in 2015, Nadal picked up the pace again in the final set to close out the match in just over two hours.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo was among those watching Nadal play.
Murray defeated Nadal in straight sets last year to win his first Masters title on clay, but Murray lost to Nadal in the Monte Carlo semifinals last month.
''He's definitely playing better, for sure, but I also think that I'm playing better than I was at this time last year,'' Murray said. ''You have to keep improving. There are things in my game that are much better than at this stage last year. I need to learn from the match that I played against him and hopefully have a good performance tomorrow.''
Nadal has won four of the last five matches against Murray.
Murray, who has won six of his last seven matches on clay, needs to win the title this weekend to avoid being overtaken by Roger Federer in the rankings.
Also through to the semis was sixth-ranked Kei Nishikori, who edged Nick Kyrgios 6-7 (6), 7-6 (1), 6-3 in a thriller that lasted 2 hours, 38 minutes.
Coming off a semifinal loss to Nadal in Barcelona, Nishikori overcame 18 aces by Kyrgios, getting his lone break to go up 3-1 in the decisive set.
Nishikori will play either Novak Djokovic or 10th-ranked Milos Raonic.
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