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Nadal, Ferrer To Renew Clay Rivalry

Rome, Italy

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal will face David Ferrer in the semi-finals.

World No. 3 Rafael Nadal produced a scintillating performance in Friday’s quarter-finals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, defeating the in-form Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5.

Berdych, runner-up to Roger Federer at the Mutua Madrid Open last week, engaged in intense baseline exchanges with Nadal, but was ultimately edged out by the Spaniard in two hours and six minutes. After trailing 2-4 in the second set, Nadal reeled off five of the next six games to clinch his 31st win of the season.

"I played one of my best matches on clay against a difficult opponent," said Nadal. "It was a big match and one of the higher quality matches this year because the level of the opponent is high and he is playing with big confidence. I played under pressure all the time in the match; my chances on the return were few so I had to be focused. I hit a few fantastic shots and this kind of shot comes with confidence."

The 25-year-old Nadal is a five-time champion at the Foro Italico and is hoping to win a record-breaking 21st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy with a sixth victory this week. He won the title most recently in 2010, before surrendering his crown to Novak Djokovic last year.

Nadal is chasing his third ATP World Tour title of the season. He was victorious for the eighth time in Monte-Carlo (d. Djokovic) before lifting the trophy in Barcelona a week later.

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In the semi-finals, Nadal will face countryman and World No. 6 David Ferrer, who reached the last four in Rome for the third time as he defeated Andy Murray’s conqueror, Richard Gasquet, 7-6(4), 6-3. The Spaniard is yet to drop a set at the Foro Italico this week, and broke serve three times from six opportunities to dismiss Gasquet in one hour and 47 minutes.

"[It was a] tough match and I am happy getting into the semi-finals," said Ferrer, who has an ATP-best 33-6 match record on the season. "It is a Masters 1000 match and it was close. It was good and it was consistent all the time and the difference was only in some points. When I won the first set it was easier and I saw he was more tired than me."

The 30-year-old Ferrer is bidding to reach his fifth ATP World Tour final of the season, and fourth on clay, after victories in Buenos Aires (d. Almagro) and Acapulco (d. Verdasco) and a runner-up showing in Barcelona (l. to Nadal). He reached the final in Rome in 2010, losing out to Nadal.

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