Nadal secures semi-final spot
Rafael Nadal was given a tough time by Tomas Berdych before securing his place in the last four of the Rome Masters.
The clay-court master, a five-time winner in the Italian capital, took just over two hours to see off a resilient Berdych 6-4 7-5.
Second seed Nadal needed just a single break to take the opening set, but his Czech opponent was not making things easy. The pair exchanged breaks in the second set, but Nadal gained the decisive advantage in game 11 when he broke again after a Berdych backhand into the net.
That left the Spaniard serving for the match, eventually taking the contest on his third match point when Berdych again found the net with his shot.
Nadal's opponent in the semi-finals will be compatriot and sixth seed David Ferrer, who beat Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7/4) 6-3.
Top seed Novak Djokovic also advanced to the semi-finals in Rome, seeing off the challenge of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Serbian edged a close first set before running away with the second to seal a 7-5 6-1 victory.
In the women's event, Serena Williams maintained her winning run - albeit in fortuitous circumstances - to reach the last four.
The American was leading Flavia Pennetta 4-0 in the opening set when the Italian retired with a wrist injury.
Williams is now unbeaten in 17 matches, a run which includes titles in Charleston and Madrid last week.
Next up for Williams is French Open champion Li Na with the Chinese eighth seed seeing off Dominika Cibulkova 6-1 7-6 (7/4).