World no. 1 Rafael Nadal suffered a surprising defeat in the quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters as he was eliminated by his sixth-seeded countryman David Ferrer in straight sets. The king of clay had previously conquered the tournament for eight successive times between 2005 and 2012, including overcoming his today’s opponent in the finals in 2011.
Both Spaniards dropped a couple of service games in a row in the opening five games with Rafa nearly surrendering his third serve before defending four break points to make it 3-3. The players then settled into the opener which the top seed almost turned around, but Ferrer escaped the danger in a spectacular fashion and held the game after another great finish at the net. While Nadal clinched the initial mini-break in the thirteenth game, he lost his composure later on and the Spanish number two cruised through the rest of the breaker to take the set with an hour and twenty-six minutes on the clock. Nadal conceded 27 unforced errors (44 in total) in that part of the match. Ferrer remained confident in the following set where he constructed a double break cushion by 5-2. He failed to serve out the clash in the first attempt, but was up to the task the second time around to secure a deserved 7-6 (1), 6-4 victory and reduce the head-to-head deficit to 21-6.
“It is special,” said Ferrer. “Last time I beat Rafael on a clay court was 10 years ago. I had to wait 10 years to beat him on a clay court! I am happy because I am in the semi-final and because I am playing very good this week. Maybe this week, it was my best week of the season.”
“Losing hurts everywhere. On clay always a little bit more,” said Nadal. “I am not happy today about what I did. Not very happy about the way that I played the second set after losing the first. I didn’t play with the right intensity at the beginning of the second. I give him big opportunity at the beginning of the second. I cannot do that.”
In the semi-final Ferrer will square off against third seed Stanislas Wawrinka who advanced by beating eighth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada earlier today. The opening set was marked by strong serving performance as no break points were generated in any of the twelve games. The Canadian built a 3-0 lead in the beginning of the tie-break, yet Stan turned the tide and converted on the set point number one. He maintained high level of play in the second set to break his rival on two occasions before landing the spot in the last four by winning 7-6 (5), 6-2. He scored 5 aces, one less than Raonic.