Murray's ankle holds in his straight sets victory over Argentina's Chela [AFP]

Rafael Nadal continued his charge on the Parisian Clay with a relatively straightforward three-set victory over Sweden's Robin Soderling, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (3) on Wednesday.

The Spaniard's victory set up a semi-final clash with Scotland's Andy Murray who overcame ankle problems suffered earlier in the week to defeat Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-2.

The five-time Roland Garros champion Nadal holds a 43-1 record at the French Open and is just two wins away from equalling Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open titles.

"I am through. I'm in the semi-finals, so that's the thing,'' Nadal said after the match.

"I have to be playing better and better every day if I want to have chances to win the final and that's what I'm going to try.''

Gusty

With the wind gusting on Court Philippe Chatrier, Soderling struggled with his first serve, landing only 57 percent during the match.

Nadal, however, didn't appear to be bothered by the conditions, although he was broken twice.

The top-ranked Spaniard made only 13 unforced errors, while Soderling had 41.

Murray, who only completed his five-sets, fourth round win over Serbia's Victor Troicki 24 hours earlier, again started sluggishly, as he tested out the right ankle he injured against Michael Berrer in the fourth round.

The 31-year-old Chela, who had lost six straight times against the Scot, including in the last two years at Roland Garros, jumped out into a 4-1 lead with two breaks of serve before the fourth seed started to get into his stride.

The 24-year-old Murray saved two sets points to get to 5-4 and then on cue broke Chela's serve again to get level.

The set went to a tie-break which saw Chela win the first point against serve before Murray went on a run of five straight points to eventually take it 7/2 after which he headed off court for a comfort break.

On the resumption Murray grabbed another break and he looked totally in control as he smoothly moved 4-1 up.

Chela broke the Murray serve to get to 4-2, but it did not last long as Murray replied in kind in the next game.

Serving for the set at 5-2 up, Murray again seemed to lose his focus allowing Chela to win three games in a row, with two service breaks, to draw level at 5-5.

The Scot buckled down though to take the next two games for a two sets lead.

He then broke Chela yet again to start the third and this time he raced away to victory keeping alive his hopes of finally winning a Grand Slam title after three losing finals.

Friday's other semi will be between defending champion Roger Federer and the second-seeded and favourite Novak Djokovic.

Sharapova through

Maria Sharapova powered booked her spot in the semi-finals with a crushing 6-0 6-3 win over German Andrea Petkovic.

The Russian seventh seed, who will take on Chinese sixth seed Li Na for a place in Saturday's final, needs only to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup to complete a career Grand Slam.

"It's really exciting to be back in the semis here, in general. I put a lot of work in to be in this stage of the Grand Slams," Sharapova, who made it to the last four at Roland Garros in 2007, told a news conference.

Li, who defeated fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-2, is more of a surprise semi-finalist.

Although she became the first Chinese player to reach a major final when she lost to Kim Clijsters at this year's Australian Open, the sixth-seeded Li even stunned herself by going this far in Paris. 

Source: Agencies