Nadal handed semi-final berth due to Nalbandian injury
Rafael Nadal crushed Belgian Christophe Rochus 6-2, 6-0 on Thursday and then was handed a trip into the Saturday semi-finals of the Barcelona Open as quarter-final opponent David Nalbandian was forced to withdraw injured.
Tournament director Albert Costa said that the Argentine bruiser would miss the Friday match with Nadal due to a right hip injury which had bothered him recently but got worse during the tournament.
Last month, the Argentine hard man forced Nadal to save five match points in Indian Wells. That three-set win was the first in the series for Nadal after losing to Nalbandian in back-to-back Masters 1000 events in autumn, 2007.
Instead of facing the world number 1, Nalbandian will spend Friday undergoing a scan.
"At the end of the second set he was already feeling it more," said Spanish federation doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro. "And when he cooled down, the pain was serious."
The South American had booked his last-eight place over tenth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4 a few hours before Nadal rolled Rochus in 55 minutes, encountering scarce resistance from the number 61.
The victory was the 23rd in a row on clay for Nadal, who lifted his fifth straight trophy at Monte Carlo last weekend and is aiming to do the same in Barcelona.
Four-time French Open champion Nadal stands 140-4 on clay since 2005 and 23-1 in clay finals.
Fellow Spanish seeds also advanced, with number 4 David Ferrer rallying past Italian Potito Starace 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and 2004 champion and sixth seed Tommy Robredo constructing a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 comeback over Russian Igor Andreev.
Czech Radek Stepanek upended last weekend's Monte Carlo semi- finalist Stanislas Wawrinka, putting out the Swiss eighth seed 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
The loss to number 19 Stepanek didn't help Wawrinka's confidence ahead of next week's Rome Masters where he was a finalist in 2008.