- Internazionali BNL d'Italia
Wasteful Ferrer beaten by Nadal in Rome
Rafael Nadal showed exactly why he is so difficult to beat on clay in Saturday's Internazionali BNL d'Italia semi-final against David Ferrer, defending a catalogue of break points en route to a 7-6(6) 6-0 victory.
Nadal is aiming for a sixth title in Rome, having built a record of 34 wins and only two losses at the event heading into this weekend's last-four encounter. Ferrer stood opposite him in a battle of Spain's top two players, and he will wonder how he ended up on the end of a defeat.
The pre-match statistics certainly favoured Nadal, as they always do on clay, with Ferrer beaten in 11 consecutive clay-court encounters between the pair. Nine of those had come in straight sets, and the overall head-to-head read 14-4 in favour of Nadal.
Ferrer enjoys Rome, though, having reached the semi-finals on three occasions, losing in the 2010 final. And throughout a quite fascinating opening set, it was the sixth seed who should have taken control.
Nadal's first service game alone lasted 14 minutes as Ferrer created and wasted seven break chances. By contrast, Roger Federer's first set against Andreas Seppi on Friday lasted a total of 19 minutes.
Ferrer did find his only break of the match for 3-1, but he was instantly pegged back as Nadal took his first opportunity to level at 3-3. By the time they reached the tiebreaker Ferrer had created ten break points, converting one, so it was inevitable that he would drop a set that he should have owned.
Nadal has not lost a clay-court semi-final since 2003, and he motored through the second set, lifting his intensity to press home his advantage. Ferrer, psychologically scarred from his first-set failure, was broken three times as Nadal moved into a 70th ATP Tour final.
The Spaniard will meet the winner of Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer in Sunday's showpiece.