MADRID, Spain, May 7- Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will meet for the 24th time on Saturday when the two superstars clash in the Madrid Masters semi-finals.
Top seed Nadal, who beat his Swiss rival for the 2010 title at the Caja Magica here, marched into the final four when he snuffed out Frenchman Michael Llodra’s challenge 6-2, 6-2 in little more than an hour.
It took more effort from third seed Federer as he held off two-time French Open finalist Robin Soderling 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 in his quarter-final.
The second semi-final will feature second seed Novak Djokovic against unseeded Brazilian Tomaz Bellucci.
Djokovic took his streak to 30 victories with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over Spain’s David Ferrer, the third-best winning start to a season in history.
"It was a great match against a tough opponent," said Djokovic, "I expected a tough match. I was up a set and break, feeling the ball well. But he got right back into it.
"That’s David Ferrer – he never gives up. It was a great atmosphere to play in."
Federer and Nadal will be meeting in Madrid for the third consecutive year. The Swiss won the title in 2009 with a victory over Nadal, with the Spaniard taking it back 12 months ago.
"It will be a great match for both of us," said Federer, whose only two clay wins over his rival came in the Spanish capital and in the Hamburg final of 2007.
"It’s in his home country and another meeting here. It will be exciting, I’m looking forward to it. He’s playing amazing and I’ll be giving it my best shot. I hope to make a good match of it and hopefully get the win."
Federer earned the only break of his match against Soderling, taking a 5-4 lead on a volley winner and serving out the victory after one and a three-quarter hours.
Nadal’s victory over Llodra was his 36th in succession on clay – his last loss on the surface came in the fourth round to Soderling at the 2009 French Open.
The top seed has charged through another clay campaign this year with titles in April at Monte Carlo and Barcelona so far.
"Today went very well," said Nadal, winner of a 12th match this season on clay. "I felt pretty good on the court, and we barely had any rallies.
"Of all the clay events this one is the least similar to Roland Garros. But things have been going fantastically well for a few weeks now, and you have to enjoy it."
Nadal was untroubled by Llodra, a classic serve-and-volleyer who was simply out of his depth on clay against the best the game has to offer.
The world number one did not lose a point on serve until his third game and was never under pressure from Llodra who saved two match points before Nadal secured the victory after 74 minutes without facing a break point.
Bellucci became the first Brazilian into the semi-finals of a Masters since three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten in 2003 thanks to a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 defeat of Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych.
Bellucci is coached by "Guga’s former mentor, Larri Passos. Bellucci achieved his second Top ten victory in less than 24 hours after dispatching world number four Andy Murray in the Madrid third round.
On the women’s side, Julia Goerges booked the first of the semi-final spots, defeating Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-2.
She will Saturday tackle fourth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, a winner over Czech Lucie Safarova by 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
In other quarter-finals, China’s sixth seed Li Na beat American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and will face Czech Petra Kvitova, who put out Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.