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Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ferrer beats injured Nadal to secure Murray semi-final

Australian Open, Melbourne
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 17-30 January
Coverage: Watch on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only) & Eurosport; listen on BBC 5 live sports extra and online; text commentary online; full details

Rafael Nadal
Nadal received treatment after only three games of his quarter-final

By Ben Dirs

David Ferrer defeated an injury-stricken Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-2 6-3 to set up a semi-final against Andy Murray at the Australian Open.

Top seed Nadal had his left thigh strapped early in the first set and the heavy-hitting Ferrer showed his friend and fellow Spaniard little mercy.

Ferrer feasted on Nadal's weakened serve as he moved into a two-set lead.

And while Nadal hung in gamely, seventh seed Ferrer held his nerve to secure a semi-final debut in Melbourne.

It was the first time the 24-year-old Nadal had lost in a major since retiring hurt against Murray in last year's Australian Open quarter-finals.

And injury destroyed the world number one's dream of holding all four majors simultaneously - the so-called 'Rafa Slam' - on Rod Laver Arena.

606: DEBATE
nadalistic

"This is a difficult day for me," said Nadal, adding that he preferred to not talk about the nature of his injury. "For respect to the winner and to a friend, I prefer to talk about the match.

"Today I can't do more than what I did, he played at a very high level."

When pressed about the injury, Nadal added: "I don't have to tell you what I felt on the court, but it is obvious I did not feel at my best. I had a problem with the match at the very beginning and after that, the match was almost over."

Ferrer said: "This is one big victory for me, but it's not like a victory really. He was playing with injury and I had luck. But I played my game."

Ferrer, 28, had the nine-time major winner on the back foot from the outset, going blow for blow from the back of the court and hitting winners at will from both flanks.

Nadal, who had won 12 of the previous 15 meetings between the two and all of the last eight, was taken to eight deuces in his first service game before being broken when he plonked a tame backhand into the net.

Nadal broke back straightaway, sealing the game with a cute angled backhand, before immediately calling for a medical time-out and trudging disconsolately from the court.

David Ferrer of Spain
Ferrer's victory hands him his first Australian Open semi-final

The 2009 champion returned with his left thigh heavily strapped - he appeared to tweak something in his fourth-round victory over Marin Cilic - and his body language suggested he was far from comfortable.

Ferrer sealed another break courtesy of a threaded backhand down the line but there were signs Nadal's treatment was starting to have an effect in the next game, with one whipped forehand winner closely followed by a trademark fist-pump.

Indeed, Nadal broke back in the next game to make it 5-4, Ferrer suddenly tightening with his opponent at his mercy, only for Nadal to drop serve again, as well as his first set of the championship.

Typically, Nadal came out swinging at the start of the second set, breaking Ferrer to love. But Ferrer responded in kind, producing one of the shots of the fortnight, a forehand winner down the line, to make the score 2-2.

There followed a 10-minute break for fireworks, it being Australia Day, about which Nadal did not look particularly happy.

And when play resumed, Ferrer stepped up a gear, hammering away at the brittle Nadal serve and firing winners from both sides as he reeled off the next four games and the set.

With Nadal little more than a husk, Ferrer began to bully proceedings in the third set, racing into a 3-0 lead.

And while Nadal demonstrated laudable survival instincts in creating two break points at 1-3 down, Ferrer was ruthless in snuffing out any signs of revival, unfurling a wicked forehand down the line before holding with a wrong-footing backhand.

Nadal showed tantalising glimpses of his normal self in holding his next two service games - his serve was broken seven times in total - but he had no answer to his opponent's delivery and Ferrer stayed focused to close out the match.



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see also
Australian Open photos
26 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Aussie Open quotes of the day
26 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Murray battles into Aussie semis
26 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Clijsters sets up Zvonareva semi
26 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Nadal wins to set up Ferrer clash
24 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis


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