Nadal sets up Djokovic showdown
He did not have it all his own way against David Goffin, but Rafael Nadal ultimately prevailed in their quarter-final clash.
Rafael Nadal's fine form continued with a straight-sets win over David Goffin to set up a Madrid Open semi-final with Novak Djokovic.
Off the back of triumphs in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, the clay-court specialist's French Open preparations are gathering pace, with Goffin defeated 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 on Friday.
Nadal will face holder Djokovic – a walkover winner against Kei Nishikori – next as he bids for a fifth title at the ATP Masters 1000 event in his home capital.
Goffin, so impressive in victory over Milos Raonic in the previous round, was up against it as early as the fourth game, where he faced three break points.
But Nadal spurned all three, including a poorly executed forehand on the last of them.
The world number five had to shut down an opening for Goffin in the next game, but did so convincingly as he began to bring out the big shots off both wings.
Goffin – beaten by Nadal in the last four in Monte Carlo – served to stay in the set at 5-4 and started with a nervy double fault but, amid the tension of being taken to deuce, ended it with a pinpoint forehand and a commanding overhead smash.
The tie-break proved a scrappy affair, Nadal slamming into the net with Goffin stranded, and the Belgian sending one long and another wide either side of a wayward forehand from his opponent.
As rain started to fall outside, it was Nadal who made it home safe and dry, Goffin producing too many unforced errors – including a decisive double fault – to stay competitive in the breaker.
The second set was more routine for Nadal, who conjured a sliding backhand to win a point he looked certain to lose, leaving Goffin with a rueful smile.
That set the tone for what proved to be the final set, Nadal providing answers for anything Goffin had to throw at him, and posing questions the world number 10 could not answer.