Fourth-ranked David Ferrer hasn’t beaten Rafael Nadal on clay in almost nine years, his sole win coming in their first meeting in 2004. Since then, Nadal has built a 17-4 overall record against Ferrer, including 13 straight wins on clay. Make that 14 straight. Nadal came back from a set down to beat Ferrer 4-6, 7-6, 6-0 in the Madrid quarterfinals Friday.
If that third-set bagel is a shocker, just rewind to 5-6 in the second set with Nadal serving down 15-30. Ferrer earned a mid-court forehand that should have been an easy putaway into the open court to earn two match points. Instead, he hits it right back at Nadal, who hits a reflex lob to get back into the point and win. To say that took the wind out of Ferrer’s sails would be an understatement.
This is the second straight ATP Masters event in which Ferrer came within a whisper of scoring a career win over a member of the big four only to suffer what can only be described as a brain cramp. He had a match point against Andy Murray in the Miami final when he sent, again, a mid-court forehand long, and now, with Nadal nowhere near his best, just couldn’t close.
The good news for Ferrer is he successfully defended his quarterfinal points from last year and will hold onto the No. 4 ranking on Monday. If Nadal wins Madrid, Ferrer will go into Rome (where Nadal is defending champion) with a 25-point lead. That means if Ferrer makes the Rome semifinals he’ll retain his No. 4 ranking and Nadal will have to go into the French Open as the No. 5 seed. The French Open will keep seeding in line with ATP rankings despite calls by some for Nadal to be moved up.