Two-time Mutua Madrid Open champion Rafael Nadal continued to keep his bid for a third title very much alive on Friday with a gutsy quarterfinals victory over Spanish compatriot David Ferrer.
The tournament's official Twitter page broke news of the result:
It took three sets for Nadal to get it done, and it required him to rebound from a loss in the opening set. However, the "King of Clay" was perfectly in his element once he settled in, beating his scrappy, superior-seeded counterpart.
The slower clay surface actually worked to Nadal's disadvantage. Since Ferrer is so fit and able to get to just about anything, the superior strength that Nadal possesses couldn't be utilized as effectively in the early going.
However, as the match wore on, the physical style of Nadal began to take its toll, and turned out to be enough to wear Ferrer down in the end.
Nadal's injury trials and tribulations have dropped him in the ATP rankings to No. 5, one spot below Ferrer. On this day, though, it became clear who the better player was once the match reached its conclusion.
Two intensely competitive sets preceded Nadal's sheer domination in the decisive third, as Ferrer didn't get a game off of him.
Ferrer discussed afterwards what makes Nadal so tough to match up against (h/t Madrid Open's Twitter page):
Nadal's combination of showcasing prodigious talent, unique, powerful topspin and uncommon resilience is precisely what has come to define the 11-time Grand Slam winner's illustrious career.
Now notice the competition that Nadal faces in the semis—either No. 14 seed Kei Nishikori or unseeded Spaniard Pablo Andujar. Per MatchStat.com, Nadal is 4-0 against Nishikori, and none of those matches were even on Nadal's preferred clay surface.
The only time Nadal faced Andujar was the 2011 French Open, and he cruised to a relatively stress-free win in straight sets at Roland Garros.
That leaves Andy Murray as the highest remaining seed, and the winner of his quarterfinal matchup with Tomas Berdych will still have to knock off either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Stanislas Wawrinka in the next phase.
Murray has lost all four prior meetings to Nadal on clay, too.
Though Nadal is not used to such a low seed—particularly at a clay court event—being in the fifth slot actually benefited him in a major way this time around. The pieces are in place for him to capture his third singles title of the 2013 season as he continues to gain momentum ahead of the French Open.