Nadal ignores weather to roll into semi-finals

MONTE CARLO: Rafael Nadal survived a brief rain break before resuming his storied clay-court dominance with a 6-4, 6-2 quarter-final defeat of fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero at the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday.

Second-seeded Nadal has now won 30 consecutive matches on the clay of the seaside Country Club, his last loss at the event coming in 2003.

The four-time Roland Garros winner, in search of his first ATP title since last May, will face another countyman Saturday when he plays for a finals spot against 11th seed David Ferrer, who put out German Philip Kohlschreiber 7-5, 7-6 (7/1).

This year''s event has turned into an Iberian play-day, with Spaniards accounting for five of eight spots heading into the quarter-finals.

That marked a first at the Master 1000 level during the post-1968 Open era.

The last time Spain sent five men to the last eight was at home in Valencia two years ago.

Nadal improved his record on clay against the man who proceeded him as a major clay-court force to 5-1, last losing to the 30-year-old former number one in their last meeting in the Rome second round two years ago.

Nadal improved to 19-4 on clay this season as he hopes for a confidence boost after claiming the last five trophies in the principality.

This period is crucial for the world number three as Nadal tries to regain his customary confidence with massive ranking point totals to defend after sweeping to clay titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome in three consecutive weeks in 2009.

The match was interrupted for 50 minutes in the opening set by light rain, with Nadal looking displeased to be forced from his workplace by the weather.

Once back out, he got straight back to work, setting up the opening set with a break for 5-4 and starting the second with a break which paced the way to victory.

Ferrero made a late stand, saving two match points in the penultimate game before Nadal concluded with a service winner after 95 minutes.

Ferrero came to the event a strong contender after lifting the title in 2002 and 2003 and winning back-to-back clay titles in February in the Americas.

The veteran lost only his second match of the season on clay against 17 wins.

The last pair of Spaniards figured in another quarter-final as unseeded Alberto Montanes faced sixth seed Fernando Verdasco.

Top seed and 2009 finalist Novak Djokovic was going against tough Argentine David Nalbandian, on the way back to form after hip surgery.