Coming into the quarter-finals you saw four big favorites: Wavrinka, Nadal, Federer and Djokovic. Wavrinka got tested against “Missile” Milos Raonic, but came through in the end 7-6 6-2. Then we had the match everyone felt they knew the script to: Nadal vs Ferrer.
The stats were solidly in Nadal’s favour: he had won 10 of their last 11 meetings and the last time Ferrer beat him on clay was July, 2004 in the QFs of Stuttgart when Nadal was ranked No. 57.
Much has changed since then of course.
But already from the outset Ferrer looked super-focused and ready to hit his shots confidently. And Nadal on the other hand didn’t seem quite sure of himself and seemed to mistime his shots with the unforced error count quickly on the rise.
But we all know that even a Nadal in poor form is half-impossible to beat on clay.
First set offered a lot of breaks, back and forth. They came to a tie-break and there I think 99% picked Nadal to win it. Instead, Ferrer came firing at him and won the tie-breaker 7-1 after some strangely sloppy play from Nadal.
Still, could Ferrer really win the match? I didn’t think so.
But Nadal got himself into trouble quickly and Ferrer kept hitting the felt off the ball and going for his shots. The only really viable strategy to beat Nadal.
Suddenly he was up a break 3-1! What was going on? Surely he had to turn this around?
Nadal’s head was starting to hang a bit and you started to wonder if there was some kind of injury behind his unforced error count. I mean, when does he really lose on clay? Pretty much never.
But when Ferrer broke again to 5-2 to serve for the match, it seemed meant to happen. And although Nadal managed to break back and hold his serve to 5-4, I was certain that Ferrer would be able to keep it together for the W.
And he did it with flair and a couple of heavy forehand winners. We wrote the scoreline 7-6 6-4 and Ferrer had once more proven himself to be a player worthy in so many ways of the history books, but never quite making it there.
Well done, David Ferrer. Shame for you Rafa and fans, but more clay tournaments to come!