MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Clay-court king Rafael Nadal captured his 35th straight win in Monte Carlo, while three-time runner-up Roger Federer was stunned by Austrian Jurgen Melzer in Friday's quarterfinal action at the third ATP Masters event of the year.
The world No. 1 Nadal blew past former top-five star Ivan Ljubicic 6-1, 6-3 at the prestigious Monte Carlo Country Club, where the mighty Spaniard hasn't lost in eight years. Nadal has won a record six straight titles at this event.
Nadal handled the Croatian Ljubicic in 79 minutes by allowing only one break of serve on Day 6.
The 24-year-old Nadal lost in finals to high-flying Serb Novak Djokovic in this year's first two Masters events, at Indian Wells and Miami. The super Spaniard, however, is the all-time leader with 18 Masters titles.
Nadal will meet third-seeded Andy Murray in Saturday's semifinals. The Australian Open runner-up Murray pasted Portuguese qualifier Frederico Gil 6-2, 6-1 in 72 minutes. The Brit popped six aces and piled up five breaks in the rout.
The nine-time Grand Slam titlist Nadal is 9-4 lifetime against Murray, including a semifinal victory here in Monte Carlo two years ago. The Spaniard is 2-0 in their career matchups on clay.
Both Nadal and Murray have yet to title this season.
The seventh-seeded Melzer, meanwhile, pulled off a 6-4, 6-4 triumph, beating Federer for the first time in four all-time meetings. This was, however, their first match on clay, and last year's French Open semifinalist broke Federer once in each set en route to the surprise victory.
"He did well," Federer said of Melzer. "I think he played aggressive, was able to mix it up. Obviously, I wasted way too many break-point chances today, which was unfortunate."
Federer, who failed on seven break-point chances Friday, remains without a title in 10 trips to Monte Carlo. The 16-time major champion missed last year's tournament and was a round-of-16 loser to fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in his last visit here in 2009.
Three times Federer has been a finalist at the Monte Carlo Country Club, but all three times he lost to the amazing Nadal, from 2006-08.
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain was also a quarterfinal winner on Friday, earning a 6-3, 6-3 victory over 11th-seeded Serb Viktor Troicki. The two- time 2011 ATP champion Ferrer and the lefthanded Melzer will square off on Saturday. The Spaniard is 3-2 all-time versus the Austrian, including a 2-1 mark on clay.
This year's Monte Carlo champ will collect $625,000.