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Nadal Weathers Storm To Beat Ferrer In Madrid

Madrid, Spain

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal improved to a 18-4 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against David Ferrer.

Two-time former champion Rafael Nadal battled past David Ferrer on Friday to reach the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals, where he will meet another Spaniard, wild card Pablo Andujar. Nadal beat Andujar in the 2011 Roland Garros second round, which is their only FedEx ATP Head2Head clash.

"The favourite, of course, is him," said Andujar. "I do believe I have more options playing in Madrid because it's a little bit faster. And playing two sets, you cannot tell who's the worst player. You don't see it so clearly. It's true that in two sets the one who's a little bit inferior has the possibility to give the surprise." 

Nadal came close to losing his first clay-court match in nine years against Ferrer, but battled hard to beat his fellow Spaniard 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-0 in two hours and 37 minutes. It was his 18th victory in 22 matches against Ferrer, who won their very first clash in 2004 on the clay of the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.

“To win matches like today is always important,” said Nadal. “For me physically these matches help me [as] these are the kind of matches that ask the most of you physically. I think I played well. I had some highs and lows. Some moments I played aggressively.

“I think he (Ferrer) played a very high level first two sets; third one he went down a little bit. I think that he did really well with his crosscourt backhand and with his forehand. We know he has a really good forehand. David is pretty solid right now.”

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Ferrer clinched the opening set 6-4 in 51 minutes. Nadal recovered from a 1-4 deficit to 4-4, but was broken to 30 in the 10th game. When Ferrer opened up a 4-2 lead, it looked like he might record his second win in 16 clay-court meetings against Nadal. 

But the Mallorcan bounced back immediately and won three straight games. When serving at 5-4, to take their 22nd clash to a third set, Nadal was broken to 30. At 5-6, Nadal fell to 15/30 on serve but managed to recover. He then seized control of the tie-break, as the match moved into its third hour, by winning three straight points from 2-2. Nadal won the set 7-6(3) and cruised through the decider. 

Nadal, the 2005 and 2010 champion in Madrid, has a 29-2 match record on the season. Returning to the ATP World Tour in early February, the Spaniard is looking to reach his seventh consecutive final (4-2 overall). 

Nadal is currently No. 3 in the Open Era with 39 clay-court titles, trailing fellow left-handers Guillermo Vilas (45) and Thomas Muster (40). “Rafa is always the favourite on clay,” said Ferrer. “Without any doubt he's the best and he's really fit right now.”

The 27-year-old Andujar reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-finals after he defeated No. 14 seed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 52 minutes.

"I'm very happy," said former World No. 33 Andujar, who is currently No. 113 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. "Very happy for being able to reach my first [Masters 1000] semi-finals in my career, especially here in Madrid.  I think that I cannot ask for anything else."

Chardy/Kubot To Play Bryans In Doubles SFs
Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot reached the doubles semi-finals with a 66-minute victory over sixth seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. Chardy and Kubot lost just four of their first service points to win 6-2, 6-4. They will next meet Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who improved to a 28-6 mark on the year with a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek. The Bryan twins have already won four titles in 2013.

In the bottom half of the draw, seventh seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares knocked out third seeds Robert Lindstedt and Daniel Nestor 6-4, 6-2 in 65 minutes. They will next face Spaniards David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco, who were 6-2, 7-6(3) victors over fifth seeds Max Mirnyi and Horia Tecau.

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