Raonic cruises past Chardy and into Rome semis
Milos Raonic of Canada returns a shot to Jeremy Chardy of France in the ATP-WTA Rome's Tennis Masters on May 16, 2014, at the Foro Italico in Rome - by Gabriel Bouys
Chardy had eliminated Swiss fourth seed Roger Federer on Wednesday 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6).
But after seeing the unseeded Frenchman fighting back to level by winning a close second set, Raonic regained control of the match in a largely one-sided third set to advance.
The Canadian, considered an outside bet for the French Open later this month, will now meet the winner of the quarter-final clash between second seed Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer, seeded fifth.
Raonic admits his claycourt game is improving, but said his next challenge would prove difficult whichever player he met.
"Yes, I am doing much better on clay and I am very happy," said Raonic.
"Movements, returns, generally I am becoming better and also how I deal with the difficult situations, the mental side as well."
He added: "Both guys, difficult matches. I played David twice and Novak once.
"If I can control the centre of the court, if I can really be the one dictating and take care of my service it’s going to be very important."
Earlier, Italy's number 10 seed Sara Errani benefited from huge crowd support as she stunned China's number two seed Li Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
Errani has now made the semis for the second consecutive year, keeping her on course to become the first Italian woman since Raffaella Reggi 29 years ago to win the tournament when it was held in Taranto.
The Italian will meet the winner of the quarter-final between Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, seeded six, and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who is the third seed.
Errani was joined in the last four by Ana Ivanovic, although the Serbian 11th seed had to dig deep throughout a thrilling encounter with Carla Suarez Navarro before finally beating the Spaniard, seeded 13, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Ivanovic will now meet either defending champion and top seed Serena Williams of the United States or China's Zhang Shuai.
The pick of Friday's matches will be the last eight clash between British seventh seed Andy Murray and top seed Rafael Nadal of Spain.
They are due to play on central court from 2100 local time (1900 GMT).