Whoever wins between Nadal and Djokovic in the tournament semifinals Saturday will be ranked No. 2 in the world when the new ratings are released Monday. Nadal owns a 6-3 advantage over Djokovic in their head-to-head matches, including a 3-0 record on clay courts.
Nadal played Friday as though he intended to keep that No. 2 spot, dropping just three points during his serve in the first set in blitzing 11th-seeded Carlos Moya, 6-1, 6-3.
Djokovic was nearly as sharp, dispatching Albert Montanes, 6-2, 6-3, in his quarterfinal match.
Saturday's other semifinal has world No. 1 Roger Federer against Andreas Seppi. Federer improved to 28-3 all-time in Italian Open play -- he won the event in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007 -- with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Fernando Verdasco. Seppi was a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 winner over Nicolas Kiefer in his Friday match.
Federer beat Seppi the only time the two have met in tournament play. While it was a straight-set win, both sets went to tie-breakers.