Melzer blows away Federer

Austrian cruises past sub-par Swiss in straight sets; Nadal has it easy

Heady day: Juergen Melzer soaks in the applause after coasting past Roger Federer. APWhile Nadal powered past Croat Ivan Ljubicic 6-1, 6-3 in pursuit of a record seventh straight title on the Monaco clay, Federer continued his sticky start to the season as Melzer set up a last four meeting with David Ferrer on Saturday.

Windy conditions caused problems on centre court during Federer's match, with huge waves in the bay just behind the open arena and the fluttering flags showing just how blustery it was.

Dust from the clay was flying up into the players' faces but Federer can have few excuses having netted several simple forehands and a smash against the seventh-seeded Austrian, who recovered from a slight back injury suffered in the first game.

Melzer stormed back and never let 16-times Grand Slam champion Federer settle, taking two of his break point opportunities with gusto while limiting the Swiss's ability to fight back in the first clay event of the European season. "He did well and played aggressive. He didn't give me many chances," Federer, who has never taken the Monte Carlo title and last won a tournament at Doha in early January, told reporters.

"I didn't think I played terrible. It's the first week of play (on clay) so I didn't expect to play my best. It's been a solid tournament."

The French Open starts on May 22 and although Federer was impressive in his first two matches here, Nadal looks the clear favourite to retain his Roland Garros title even if in-form Novak Djokovic is waiting in the wings with a minor knee injury.

Top seed Nadal broke Ljubicic in the first game of the first set only to immediately lose the advantage by double-faulting but he broke again straight away when the Croatian netted a simple volley.

The rest was a procession for Nadal. Nadal now meets Andy Murray who eased past Portuguese Frederico Gil 6-2, 6-1.

Bopanna-Qureshi in semis

India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi shocked second-seeded Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Daniel Nestor of Canada in straight sets 6-1, 7-5 to move into the semifinals of the doubles event.

The India-Pakistan pair broke the Belarusian-Canadian pair five times, while dropping their serve twice.

They next play Argentinean Juan Ignacio Chela and Brazilian Bruno Soares.

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