- French Open, Day 13
Ruthless Nadal destroys sorry Ferrer
Rafael Nadal is on course to become the first man to win seven French Open crowns after proving too strong for a helpless David Ferrer in their semi-final on Friday.
Nadal, currently level with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg on six Roland Garros titles, overcame an unusually pedestrian start to blast his way past his compatriot 6-2 6-2 6-1.
Entering the all-Spanish contest, the pair had played each other 19 times, with Nadal winning 15 of those meetings. Of even greater concern to Ferrer was their head-to-head on clay, where he trailed his rival 12-1. Nonetheless, it was the older Spaniard who started with greater fluency, showing no sign of nerves as he took the game to his more illustrious opponent.
The sixth seed, who has not got the better of Nadal on the red dirt since their first meeting in 2004 in Stuttgart, hit his groundstrokes with venom and authority to confidently hold to love. Nadal, in contrast, appeared unsettled and was not timing the ball as has become customary, although he was still managing to thwart Ferrer's best attacks.
Ferrer soon created the first opening, putting away a neat volley to bring up the first break point of the match, but it quickly came and went after he dragged a return wide. More aggressive play from Ferrer, who was finding the lines with accuracy, garnered another break point, but yet again Nadal averted the danger and, having survived that onslaught, the world No. 2 proceeded to turn the screw.
Unfortunately for Ferrer, his compatriot only needed to raise his level slightly to take the initiative. With the underdog running out of ammunition, Nadal raced to 0-40 on his opponent's serve and he only needed one of his break points as Ferrer went long.
Following a routine hold, Nadal struck again, breaking to love with a trademark forehand winner. In the ensuing game Ferrer stopped the rot to win a first point in 17, only to see Nadal immediately respond by wrapping up a 39-minute set.
Ferrer arrested the slump with a service hold at the beginning of the second, and he had a sniff in the next at 30-30 before Nadal shut the door with a big first serve. There was an air of inevitability about where the match was heading, however, with Nadal's unrelenting pressure gradually breaking down Ferrer's resistance.
Errors were entering Ferrer's game with more regularity, and Nadal made the most of his opponent's dip in form to break for 2-1. And it went from bad to worse for Ferrer as he succumbed to a double-break just before play was suspended for rain.
It did not take long for Nadal to pick up where he left off after a 55 minute delay, with the match going with serve before he drilled another forehand winner to open up a two-set advantage.
By now, Ferrer had a look of resignation etched across his face; a man giving everything but ultimately getting little reward for his efforts. Nadal brought up three break points in the opening game of the third and, although Ferrer survived two of them, a stray backhand left him staring defeat in the face.
The unfancied Spaniard had nothing left in the tank, surrendering to Nadal's brilliance yet again to fall further behind. Serving to stay in the match, Ferrer could not muster the goods to delay the foreseeable outcome - Nadal sealing victory with a booming inside-out forehand that left his beaten opponent rooted to the spot.