Rafael Nadal came through a battle with another huge hitter, holding off a charge from Canadian Frank Dancevic to join Roger Federer in the final four of the Montreal Masters on Friday.
Dancevic, ranked 89 spots below the Spanish world No. 2, put up a ferocious first set in front of 11,000 fans. But his bid to become the first home player to make the Canadian semi-finals since 1969 came up short as Nadal triumphed 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Nadal dropped the first set on a break, but found his range to save seven break points in the second as Dancevic needed multiple treatments for a back problem.
The Roland Garros champion from Spain stayed in command in the third.
"It was a beautiful match; he played very well," Nadal said. "It was tough for me out there."
Nadal improved his ATP-best season mark to 59-8 after surviving match against the local hero, a finalist last month at Indianapolis.
The victory handed Nadal -- the winner of the event the last time it was played here in 2005 -- a date yesterday with Serbian Novak Djokovic, who beat Andy Roddick 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
Nadal has won five of six against Djokovic, the last in the Wimbledon semis, but was beaten by the Serb on a hardcourt.
"I went in really nervous against a player like Roddick," Djokivic said. "You know he has a fast and precise serve and can put a lot of pressure on you.
"I didn't play as well from the baseline as I did in my first two matches," he said. "It was a difficult match mentally and I survived it. It's always good to win when you don't play your best."
Roger Federer was broken for the first time this week but shrugged off the hiccup to post his 10th successive win over Lleyton Hewitt.
The showdown between present and former generations of No. 1 players put the Swiss top seed into the semi-finals against Czech Radek Stepanek, who surprised Russian fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 7-5.
Federer, aiming to achieve a 50th career title, lifted his record over Hewitt to 12-7 following his 6-3, 6-4 success.
Over the course of that winning streak, dating back to the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final in Melbourne, he has dropped just three sets.
"It was the first time I've been broken this week," said Federer, 39-5 this season with grand slam titles in Australia and Wimbledon.
"I served better than he did and that gave me an advantage," he said. "It's a pleasure to play Lleyton after two years; we always have tough matches."
"It looked like I was pretty much in control, but the first set took 45 minutes," Federer said. "We both had our chances.
"It went my way in the end because I served well in the important moments," he said.
The victory was the 15th in a row in Canada for Federer, who was scheduled to play the surging Stepanek yesterday.
The former No. 8, who has made a successful comeback from a nerve injury which affected his hand,has won 13 of his last 15 matches.
During that spell he took the title last month in Los Angeles, beating US player James Blake in the final.