PARIS -- Playing a bit like he's still upset about his only loss at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal defeated Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (3) Wednesday to reach the French Open semifinals for the sixth time.
The five-time champion, who lost to Soderling in the fourth round in 2009 but then defeated him in last year's final, is 43-1 at the clay-court Grand Slam and two wins away from equaling Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open titles.
Nadal will next face fourth-seeded Andy Murray. The Australian Open runner-up defeated Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-2.
Murray's win ensured that the top four seeded players made the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament for only the 12th time in the Open era.
Also, Maria Sharapova and Australian Open finalist Li Na reached the women's semifinals. They will face each other Thursday.
Nadal was back on Court Philippe Chatrier to face the man who was responsible for his only blemish at Roland Garros. But with the wind gusting -- at one point blowing specks of red clay into Nadal's face -- the fifth-seeded Swede 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.
Emotionless for almost the entire match, Nadal was able to handle Soderling's hard forehand while keeping his opponent on the move by spraying shots to all corners of the court.
And when he smacked a forehand winner to hold serve to 6-5 in the third set, the crowd roared.
After five titles in Paris, Nadal had plenty of fans in the stands, and even some admirers. Besides the Spanish flags throughout the stadium, one woman held up a sign reading, "Rafa ganador, kiss me por favor" ("Rafa you winner, kiss me please").
Friday's other semifinal will be between defending champion Roger Federer and the seemingly unstoppable Novak Djokovic. The second-seeded Djokovic is 41-0 in 2011 and has won 43 straight matches dating to last year's Davis Cup final triumph for Serbia.
While Nadal is in the French Open semifinals for the sixth time in seven years, Sharapova returned to the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in more than three years, beating Andrea Petkovic 6-0, 6-3.
The three-time major champion, who can complete a career Grand Slam with a title at Roland Garros, last reached this stage when she won the 2008 Australian Open.
"I put a lot of work in to be in this stage of the Grand Slams," Sharapova said. "I'm really happy that it's here. I'm going to have a chance to go further."
Sharapova had little trouble against Petkovic, a German who also lost in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Sharapova won the opening eight games and then overcame two breaks to take the second set.
Sharapova improved her Grand Slam quarterfinal record to 11-3 by beating Petkovic. All three of her losses came at Roland Garros.
But she had little trouble Wednesday on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
"Definitely my serve wasn't as good as the previous matches before, so she took full advantage of it," said Petkovic, who beat Sharapova in the fourth round at the Australian Open. "In the second set I came back, and it was just maybe for an instant I could have turned the match. Unfortunately, I couldn't take the chances that I had."
The one time Sharapova previously reached the semifinals in Paris, she lost to eventual runner-up Ana Ivanovic in 2007.
"There's no doubt that I've improved on this surface," Sharapova said. "There's no doubt that I felt, as the years went on, that I felt better and better."
Besides the Australian Open title, the seventh-seeded Russian also won Wimbledon in 2004 and the U.S. Open in 2006. With a title at Roland Garros, Sharapova can become the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam.
"This is my second time (in the semifinals) at Roland Garros, and my goal just looking at myself is just to take it a step further and try and take it to the finals and see what happens," Sharapova said.
Li, who defeated fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-2, is more of a surprise semifinalist.
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.
"After I win the match I was feeling, 'Wow! I can play semi in Roland Garros,"' Li said. "I never think about that before. So many people think I'm not so good in clay court, but I think now they should change a little bit."