David Ferrer stunned eight-time champion Rafael Nadal 7-6 (1), 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday, his first victory over his Spanish countryman on clay in 10 years.
Ferrer entered having lost 17 consecutive matches on clay against Nadal. In fact, Ferrer’s only victory on the surface came in their first career meeting, in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2004.
Ferrer’s blunt assessment before the match was that in order to win he needed to play his best and benefit from an off day from Nadal, who had won 30 clay matches in a row. That’s precisely what happened. Both men struck 24 winners, but Nadal hit 44 unforced errors compared to Ferrer’s 28 and played some of his worst tennis at the most inopportune times, such as in the tiebreaker that capped an 85-minute first set. Ferrer broke twice in the second set for a 5-2 lead and held on after Nadal got one break back and reached 30-30 when Ferrer served for the match at 5-4.