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Nadal, Serena Williams reach Italian Open semis


ROME (AP) - Down to No. 3 in the rankings this week, Rafael Nadal showed he's still a major threat on clay with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych on Friday to reach the Italian Open semifinals.

Berdych was coming off a runner-up performance at the Madrid Open. He lost to Roger Federer, who then replaced Nadal at No. 2.

Nadal broke in the opening game to take control of the first set. He recovered a break midway through the second before pulling ahead for good in his quest to win the French Open warm-up event in Italy for a record sixth time. Nadal dominated from the baseline, committed just 10 unforced errors and hit 34 winners against his opponent's 28.

Nadal's semifinal opponent will be sixth-seeded David Ferrer, who beat Richard Gasquet 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will play No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga later Friday and Federer will be up against local hope Andreas Seppi of Italy.

In women's play, Serena Williams reached the last four after Flavia Pennetta retired with a right wrist problem while trailing 4-0 in the first set. Williams' winning streak is up to 17 matches following titles in Charleston, S.C., and Madrid. She also has two victories in Fed Cup.

"For me it was good because I have played every day and I haven't had a day off," said Williams, who won Italy's clay-court tournament 10 years ago. "I hope she is feeling better."

Pennetta called for the trainer after falling behind 3-0. The Italian had her wrist re-taped, but conceded during the fifth game after 28 minutes of play.

"I felt pain during the second or third point of the opening game," Pennetta said. "Something happened on the backhand. ... Then not being able to serve and attack like usual, there wasn't much else to do."

Williams' next opponent will be French Open champion Li Na, who eliminated No. 14 Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 7-6 (4).

Older sister Venus Williams will play defending champion Maria Sharapova.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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