Nadal rallies to beat David Ferrer at Madrid Open

Rafael NadalRafael Nadal from Spain celebrates against David Ferrer from Spain during the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid. (AP)

Rafael Nadal fought back to beat David Ferrer 4-6 7-6 (3) 6-0 in Friday's quarterfinals of the Madrid Open, keeping alive his bid to reach a seventh straight final since returning from injury. In a meeting of Spain's top ranked players, Ferrer's baseline game on the red clay almost proved too much for the fifth-seeded Nadal.

But Nadal held on to force a third set and won six straight games to improve his career record against Ferrer to 18-4, avoiding making an early exit like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earlier this week. "I'm just happy to be back in the semifinals at Madrid," said Nadal, who won in 2005 and 2010.

Nadal will play either Pablo Andujar or Kei Nishikori of Japan. The Spaniard has won four titles this year since being sidelined for several months with tendinitis in his left knee.

In the women's event, top-ranked Serena Williams struggled past Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 0-6 7-5 and second-seeded Maria Sharapova joined her in the semifinals after easing by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2 6-4.

The fourth-seeded Ferrer's ability to keep points alive with error-free long rallies gave him an early lead. He used his speed to break twice in the second set, sealing both with approach shots at the net for a 4-2 advantage.

Nadal then dug in and broke twice to win the next three games.

Ferrer had a golden opportunity to earn two match points when leading 5-4 and 30-15. He had plenty of time to slam a floating ball into an open court but instead fired at his opponent's feet, allowing Nadal to scoop it over the net.

Nadal was steadier in his shot-making to level in the tiebreaker, and he only got better in the third set. After placing a perfect lob near the baselines, he wowed the Caja Magica crowd by nailing a forehand winner while almost stumbling to the ground en route to building an insurmountable 4-0 lead.

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