Rome: Roger Federer remained on course for a semi-final clash with Spanish rival Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open after cruising past Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3 in just over an hour yesterday. Federer has made the final in Rome three times in the past 12 years but has been beaten on every occasion -- twice by Nadal and once by Felix Mantilla, in 2003.

Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Tomas Berdych in Rome yesterday. Pic/AFP

The 33-year-old Swiss could now meet Nadal, the seven-time champion, in the last four if the Spaniard overcomes Swiss Stan Wawrinka in their quarter-final, which was scheduled later yesterday. The old foes have met 15 times on clay with Nadal leading Federer 13-2 on his favoured red surface.

Djokovic sets up Ferrer clash
Meanwhile, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic moved a step closer to defending his Italian Open title after dominating Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in a one-sided quarter-final in Rome yesterday.

Djokovic, who beat Rafael Nadal in last year's final to claim his third trophy in the Italian capital, will now meet David Ferrer in the semis today when he will be highly fancied to account for the Spaniard.