MADRID, Spain -- Defending champion Rafael Nadal gave his clay-court doldrums a boost by reaching the Madrid Open semifinals on Friday with a dominant performance against Thomas Berdych. In the womens tournament, two-time defending champion Serena Williams withdrew with a leg injury, while Maria Sharapova ousted Li Na in the quarterfinals. The top-ranked Nadal had lost his previous two quarterfinal matches on clay for his worst run on the surface in a decade. But buoyed on by a partisan crowd, Nadal overpowered Berdych 6-4, 6-2 to advance at the Magic Box. "I brought great energy and intensity to it and thats the best news, that its my best (on clay) yet," Nadal said. "The things that, historically, Ive done well on this surface I managed to do them again today." Nadal has been improving with every match in Madrid after losing at the quarterfinals stage in preceding tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. But he showed no sign of the nerves that had uncharacteristically crept into the game of the most successful clay-court player ever as he pushed Berdych to the corners and punished him with a powerful forehand that accounted for 16 of his winners. "My play is good when Im hitting my forehand well, especially on clay," said Nadal, who is vying for his third title in the Spanish capital. "In Monte Carlo I used my backhand more and not my forehand, and when I have to hit five or six backhands in a row it doesnt help my game." Berdych, who dropped to 3-18 against Nadal, couldnt keep up in the hot sun beating down on Manolo Santana centre court. Nadal faces countryman Roberto Bautista Agut after the 45th-ranked player beat Colombias Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4. David Ferrer followed Bautista Aguts victory with a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over Ernests Gulbis to become the third Spaniard in the semis. Kei Nishikori prevented an all-Spanish lineup in the final four by beating Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4 in the late match. The win also ensures that he will become the first Japanese player to break into the top 10 when the new world rankings are released on Monday. Nishikori remained undefeated on clay this season in nine matches after winning the Barcelona Open title. The top-ranked Williams has had her left thigh heavily bandaged this week and said she injured it during a first-round victory over Belinda Bencic on Sunday. "It started to get better but, most importantly right now, I just need some time to rest and recover. Its beyond words. Its so frustrating," Williams said in a statement. "This is not the way I wanted this week to end." The withdrawal gave 2011 champion Petra Kvitova a walkover and a spot in the semifinals. The 32-year-old Williams said the injury would not keep her out of the French Open, with the defending champion tweeting she would play in Rome next week before the second Grand Slam of the season starts on May 25. Sharapova reached the semis after she rallied to beat Li 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Li was in control until she failed to convert two break points in the 11th game of the second set. Errors then began creeping into the Australian Open champions game as Sharapova evened the match. After an exchange of breaks in the third set, the ninth-ranked Russian broke again and then held serve to win on Lis 43rd unforced error. "It really could have gone her way today. You know, it was just a matter of a few points in the second set," said Sharapova, who came through despite seven doublefaults. "I was down, I didnt play a great first set, and I found a way to get myself in a position to be in the third." Sharapova faces third-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals after the Polish player beat French qualifier Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Kvitova will face fourth-seeded Simona Halep after the Romanian ousted Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 6-2, 6-2. Marvin Jones Jr Youth Jersey . Toronto (11-12) gave up leads in 10-8 and 11-4 losses to the Baltimore Orioles this week. It was never close Friday as the Boston Red Sox got to Mark Buehrle early en route to an 8-1 win. Kerryon Johnson Jersey . -- Rookie Victor Oladipo came off the bench to score 20 points and Glen Davis had 18, leading the Orlando Magic to a 112-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. http://www.lionsfanspro.com/Black-Will-Harris-Lions-Jersey.html?cat=972 . Viewers in the Jets region can watch the game on TSN Jets at 6:30pm ct/7:30pm et. The game is also avialable on TSN Radio 1290 in Winnipeg at 7pm ct. Kenny Golladay Womens Jersey . - On the night Dirk Nowitzki overtook Dominique Wilkins on the career scoring list, Brandan Wright was a human highlight film all by himself. Darius Slay Jr Jersey . Chris Heisey followed with a two-run triple and Billy Hamilton added an RBI double, all but sealing Cincinnatis fourth straight victory and seventh in eight games. Brandon Phillips, celebrating his 33rd birthday, hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth for the Reds before pinch-hitter Buster Posey tied it with an RBI double off hard-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman in the bottom half.CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Panthers announced theyve signed wide receiver Mike Brown to a reserve/future contract.The deal was announced Thursday.The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Brown spent the last three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and has played in 18 games with eight starts during his career. The former undraftedd player from Liberty has 39 catches for 534 yards and two touchdowns since joining the league in 2012.ddddddddddddBrowns best season came in 2013 when he played in 11 games with six starts, catching 32 passes for 446 yards and two TDs.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL ' ' '