Rafael Nadal Cruises To French Open 2012 Semis With 3-Set Win

Even when you can match up well with Rafael Nadal from an offensive perspective, you still need to be able to win the key points. Nicolas Almagro won his share of rallies early on but eventually faded, losing to the six-time champion, 7-6, 6-2, 6-3.

The first set was almost exactly even; Nadal won 42 points to Almagro's 38, and neither saw his serve seriously threatened. But on the first point of the tiebreaker, Almagro dumped an ill-advised drop shot into the net -- the shot was so bad that Almagro looked like he was angry about it before racquet even met ball. Nadal went up 5-1 in the 'breaker, cruised to a 7-4 win, then took the final two sets rather easily.

For the match, Almagro actually had more winners than Nadal (39 to 36), but he committed 29 more errors (45 to 16). Combine that with the fact that Nadal won seven of the match's 10 break points (3-for-6 on Almagro's serve, 4-for-4 on his own), and you've got the difference in the match. Almagro is a rising star on clay, but he isn't Rafael Nadal. Nadal will face the winner of the ongoing quarterfinal between No. 4 Andy Murray and No. 6 David Ferrer on Friday.

You can see a full French Open scoreboard at SI.com.

For more updates on the 2012 French Open, please stay tuned to this StoryStream. For lots more on all things tennis, keep checking SB Nation's dedicated tennis hub.

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