Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are on course for their fourth meeting of the season after the number one and number two ranked players in the world entered the semi-finals at the ongoing Shanghai Masters in China.

Nadal defeated Grigor Dimitrov in three sets to book a place in the last four and will next face Marin Cilic for a place in the summit clash. Federer, on the other hand, needed just two to dispatch Frenchman Richard Gasquet and book a last-four encounter with Juan Martin del Potro.

The Spaniard took his unbeaten streak to 15 matches and is looking to win his 31st ATP Masters Series title. It was the second meeting between Nadal and Dimitrov in two weeks after the former had beaten the Bulgarian in the semi-finals at the China Open last week. He needed three sets on both occasions.

"It was a very tough match," Nadal said after his win, as quoted on ATP's official site. "I think both of us, we played at a very high level of tennis. The conditions, of course, have been different today than my two previous matches. I think [it was] a great battle between two players who are playing all the time very focused, very intense points all the time."

Federer, who has to win the event in order to have a chance of catching Nadal for the year-end number one ranking before the end of the season, was also happy with his performance against Gasquet.

"I thought it was a really good match. Some big points, important shots at the right time for both guys sometimes to stay even, and we both created chances," Federer was quoted as saying on ATP's official site after his match. "I thought we were able to keep up the level from the beginning till the very end...I enjoyed it because it was slices and topspins and angles and power and finesse. I think the match had a bit of everything."

Meanwhile, Federer could be handed an early advantage in his potential clash with Nadal in the finals, with Del Porto a doubt for his semi-final clash with the Swiss after he injured his wrist during his win over Viktor Troicki.

The 31-year-old Spaniard, however, still has to overcome Cilic in order to have a chance to make it to the final and the Croatian has been in fine form this season. But despite that the advantage for Federer will not bode well for Nadal, who has failed to beat him in all their three meetings this season.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have faced each other three times in 2017 with the latter winning on all occasions Getty