It was an ugly sight. An injured champion battling for all he is worth to keep his bid for a dream alive. As World No. 1 Rafael Nadal stood motionless while his fellow Spaniard David Ferrer put away a forehand to take the match 6-4 6-2 6-3, there were echoes dating back a year when a knee injury forced him to retire at the same stage.
However, credit where it is due. David Ferrer was in impressive form right from the start, breaking Nadal in his very first serve. If not for the injury, this could have well become a five set thriller.
Ferrer raced into an early lead with his serve before breaking Nadal in the second game after claiming advantage in the 8th deuce. Nadal had broken back to make it 2-1 when his troubles began. He took a medical timeout and went into the locker room and was still pretty ginger when he came out five minutes later. Play resumed all the same.
Ferrer broke back to make it 3-1, before holding his serve to make it 4-1. However, whatever the trainer had done, it just seemed to be kicking in, as Nadal started battling back, holding on at 2-4. Ferrer held serve before Nadal broke back twice to make it 5-4. The comeback couldn't be completed though, as Nadal, still in evident pain, dropped his first set of the tournament.
The second started with Nadal, moving more freely with his thighs strapped, breaking early to go 2-1 up. However, it was all downhill from there. Ferrer converted the second of his three break-back points before proceeding to hold his serve and break Nadal twice more to take the set 6-2.
It seemed quite unreal to see the first seed down two sets in the quarter-finals of a grand slam. Though he battled, the Rod Laver arena had the sinking feeling of the inevitable. Ferrer raced into a 3-0 lead before Nadal finally held serve to make it 3-1.However, Ferrer broke again to make it 4-1. Nadal continued battling and held serve but Ferrer held his own and it was 5-2. Still battling, Nadal broke back, earning loud cheers from the Rod Laver arena, for 5-3 but Ferrer didn't give him another sniff as he served out for the match.
Ferrer is due his praise though as he is in fine form and concentrated on his own game. When asked about Nadal after the match, he said, It's not easy because Rafa is a gentleman and he played with an injury as we are friendly. I fought a lot but for him with injury it was not easy. I did my game, played every serve, tried to go to the net. It's not normal that you win against Rafael in three sets - it's a victory for me but not really a victory. It wasn't easy for me because I could see Rafael could not run. But I just focused on me and my game. I'm very happy with this two weeks, it's amazing. I will try to do my best in the semi-finals, I will do my best.
Ferrer will face Britain's Andy Murray in the semi-finals while third seed Novak Djokovic will take on second seed Roger Federer.