|Spain's Rafael Nadal returns a ball to Gael Monfils of France during the Barcelona Open tennis tournament, April 22, 2011. (REUTERS/Albert Gea)
BARCELONA, Spain -- Five-time champion Rafael Nadal and fellow heavy Spanish crowd favorite David Ferrer were easy quarterfinal winners Friday at the $2.24 million Barcelona Open.
The world No. 1 Nadal smacked around seventh-seeded flashy Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-2 in 75 minutes, while a fourth-seeded Ferrer, the 2008 and 2009 Barcelona runner-up to Nadal, whipped sixth-seeded Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-3 on the red clay at Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. Ferrer also pasted the lefthanded Melzer in a semifinal in Monte Carlo last week.
Nadal beat Ferrer in last week's all-Spanish finale at the Monte Carlo Masters.
The reigning U.S. Open, Wimbledon and French Open champ Nadal captured this Barcelona event five straight years from 2005-09. He's won his last 27 matches here.
"This is super positive," said Nadal, who improved to 30-0 on clay since 2010. "But there's still much to achieve."
Nadal's semifinal opponent on Saturday will be Croatia's Ivan Dodig, while Ferrer will take on eighth-seeded fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who already owns a pair of clay-court titles this season and will enter the top 10 for the first time in his career on Monday.
Three of the four semifinalists here hail from the clay-court tennis powerhouse that is Spain.
Almagro handled fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, while Dodig snuck past Spain's Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in 64 minutes on Day 5.
The former world No. 1 star Ferrero, who saw his first action since last year's U.S. Open this week, was the Barcelona champion in 2001 and runner-up in 2000 and 2005. The 31-year-old had been sidelined since undergoing wrist and knee surgeries back in October.
Nadal will face Dodig for the first time on Saturday, while Ferrer will meet Almagro for a seventh time, with Ferrer sweeping their first six encounters, including three on clay.
This week's winner will earn $418,000.