Maybe it signaled excitement. Perhaps relief. This much was clear, in case anyone harbored any doubt: Nadal can summon his best play when he needs it. Moving closer to a record seventh French Open championship, Nadal reached the semifinals by beating Almagro, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3, to improve to 50-1 at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.
"I played well. I applied my strategy. I tried to do my best," Almagro said. "But he was at such a high level."
As he always is at Roland Garros. This year, though, Nadal's level has been even higher than usual.
Not only has he won all 15 sets he's played, but has won 60 of his 61 service games so far, 54 in a row since getting broken in the second set of his first-round victory over Simone Bolelli of Italy. He's saved 16 of 17 break points, including going 4 for 4 against Almagro.
"If I'd not lost any set and not lost my serve, it would have been a miracle," the second-seeded Nadal said. "It's just impossible to achieve that."
The next player who will try to stop him is No. 6 David Ferrer, who reached his third major semifinal by eliminating No. 4 Andy Murray, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-2.
The other men's semifinal Friday will be No. 1-ranked Djokovic against No. 3 Federer. Djokovic is bidding to become the first man to win four consecutive major titles since Rod Laver 43 years ago.
Ferrer and Federer are both 30 - the first time two French Open semifinalists were that old since Laver and Ken Rosewall in 1969.
In the women's semis Thursday, three-time major champion Maria Sharapova faces No. 4 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final won by Kvitova, while U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia meets No. 21 Sara Errani of Italy.