Nadal Advances to Rome Semis, Extends No.1 Reign

Rafael Nadal will remain at the top of the world rankings at least for a few weeks more after an easy victory over Croatia’s Marin Cilic, 6-1 6-3, in their quarterfinal duel at the Rome Masters on Friday.

Finally free of the virus that caused him to struggle in his first two matches, Nadal easily dispatched of Cilic in a clinical performance where the Spanish ace never faced a break point. Nadal won the first four games of the first set to quickly establish his form en route to his 30th win in 31 matches in this tournament now officially known as Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Nadal’s victory also assured him of the number one ranking going into the 2011 French Open, which starts at the famed Roland Garros on May 17. The Spanish was in danger of losing the top ranking to world no.2 Novak Djokovic had he failed to reach the semifinals in this final tune up for the second Grand Slam event of the year.

Nadal will face Richard Gasquet in the semifinals. Djokovic also reached the semifinals after beating Robin Soderling, 6-3 6-0, and extending his unbeaten streak to start the season to 37 matches. Djokovic will face Andy Murray in the other semifinal.