Barcelona:Rafael Nadal easily won his 23rd straight match on clay on Thursday, beating Christophe Rochus of Belgium 6-2, 6-0 in the third round of the Barcelona Open.
The top-ranked Spaniard, who is looking to win a fifth straight Godo trophy, advanced directly to the semifinals shortly after his win because quarterfinal opponent David Nalbandian withdrew from the tournament with a right hip injury.
Nadal had 28 winners to Rochus' seven as the 61st-ranked Belgian wilted in the warm playing conditions, losing his serve twice in the opening set.
Nadal, who has lost only three of his last 131 matches on clay, stretched to his right to send a backhand passing shot beyond Rochus to open the second set with a break. He closed it out on his second match point when the Belgian sent a backhand wide.
Nalbandian beat Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-3, 6-4, but that will be his last match at the Barcelona tournament this year.
Spanish players David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo both rallied to advance. Ferrer best Potito Starace of Italy 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 while Robredo defeated Igor Andreev of Russia 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Robredo, the last man to win at Barcelona since Nadal's run, broke Andreev three times and saved all five break points he faced.
Ninth-seeded Radek Stepanek also reached the quarterfinals, beating Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. Stepanek will next play either third-seeded Nikolay Davydenko or Feliciano Lopez.