COSTA DEL SOL, Spain -- Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer were both quarterfinal winners on Saturday at the Volvo World Match Play Championship, keeping their respective hopes alive to become the No. 1 player in the world.
Donald and Kaymer are both gunning to usurp current No. 1 Lee Westwood, who was ousted in Saturday's round of 16 by Ian Poulter. Donald, ranked No. 2 in the world, and Kaymer, ranked No. 3, can both ascend to the top of the rankings with a win in this event.
It's a guarantee that one of them makes it to the final, as they are set to face each other in one of Sunday's semifinals. It will also be a rematch of this year's WGC-Accenture Match Play final, in which Donald won, 3 &2. The win vaulted Donald to No. 3 in the world, at the time, his highest ranking ever. He has never held the top rank.
Kaymer, who was No. 1 earlier in the year, reached the semifinal with a 2-up victory over Alvaro Quiros, while Donald defeated Masters champion Charl Schwartzel by the same score.
"It was probably the best match I had so far," Kaymer said of his win over Quiros. "It was a quality match. We made a lot of birdies. You could only win a hole with a birdie."
Donald nearly missed out on the quarterfinals, needing 19 holes to defeat Johan Edfors in the previous round. He trailed by two holes with three to play, but won three of the final four holes, including the playoff hole, to advance before winning a close bout with Schwartzel.
"I escaped this morning," Donald said. "But then I played a lot better and made it hard for Charl."
Including a Ryder Cup singles win over Jim Furyk, Donald now has 11 straight match play wins.
Kaymer, meanwhile, was a 3 & 2 winner over Soren Kjeldsen to reach the quarters.
All four quarterfinal matches were close throughout, with each needing at least 17 holes to be completed.
Sunday's other semifinal will feature Nicolas Colsaerts, who defeated reigning U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell, 2 & 1, and Poulter, who won each of the final four holes to erase a two-hole deficit and defeat Francesco Molinari, 2-up.
To reach the quarterfinals, Colsaerts needed to win three of the final four holes in his earlier match with Jhonattan Vegas.
Play was back-and-forth in nearly every match, and Donald had all he could handle with Schwartzel.
Donald missed a five-foot birdie putt at the eighth that would have put him ahead, but he atoned for the mistake with a 10-foot birdie putt at the ninth, and Schwartzel was unable to match the score.
Schwartzel looked like he'd tie the match when his approach to 11 landed four feet away, but Donald saved par from 12 feet, keeping him 1-up. Schwartzel stayed 1-down with an impressive up-and-down on 12 from the greenside rough to match Donald's par.
Donald took command of the match with a birdie at 14 to go 2-up, but Schwartzel answered by winning the 15th hole. Schwartzel missed a 17-footer at the 17th that would have squared the match, and his second shot at the par- five 18th landed in the greenside bunker.
When Schwartzel's bunker shot went way left, it was only a matter of time before he conceded the hole and the match.
"It was a good match," Donald said. "There were a lot of birdies flying around this afternoon. I kind of re-focused and found a little extra strength and made six or seven birdies out there. It was close all the way, and I have to keep hitting good shots to keep my nose ahead."
Kaymer needed a late surge to push away Quiros, who at times looked as if he would pull off the upset.
Each player won three holes on the front nine, and Kaymer began the back nine with a birdie at the par-three 10th to move ahead.
Quiros had an answer, however, with an approach to four feet at 13, leading to a birdie and an all-square match. Kaymer hit his approach at 14 to a couple feet to regain the lead, but Quiros birdied the 15th to pull even once again.
Kaymer finally took the lead for good when Quiros bogeyed the 16th, and Quiros' miss from 25 feet away on the 18th sealed his fate.
"I just thought about the (2010) PGA Championship," Kaymer said of how he compared this match to his lone major win last year. "I had three or four holes to go, and I knew what I had to do, and I just had to remind myself what I did at the PGA."
Poulter, who nearly blew a 2-up lead against Westwood, trailed most of the quarterfinal match before his impressive comeback. Colsaerts had the least amount of drama of the quarterfinalists, but still needed 17 holes to close out McDowell.
Colsaerts never trailed after winning three straight holes from the third, and he halved the 17th to advance.
NOTES: Both the semifinals and final will take place on Sunday. The final is 36 holes...Defending champion Ross Fisher was defeated by Schwartzel in the round of 16...In other round of 16 action, Quiros beat Seung-yul Noh, 1-up; McDowell topped Rory McIlroy, 3 & 2; and Molinari defeated Aaron Baddeley, 3 & 2.