Resilient Nadal fends off Murray, Djokovic subdues Ferrer

Fri May 16, 2014 7:19pm EDT
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By Terry Daley

ROME (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal overcame a first-set thrashing by Andy Murray to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open with a 1-6 6-3 7-5 victory that kept him on course to meet rival Novak Djokovic in Sunday's climax.

World number one and seven-times winner Nadal was a set down after only 37 minutes and trailed 4-2 in the decider, but kept his composure to book a last-four clash with rising talent Grigor Dimitrov.

"Every win is special but this is a win that means a lot to me... I feel like I played as well as I have done for a while," Nadal said.

"I didn't ever think I was playing that badly despite being 6-1 down. I felt more positive than in the last match.

"I didn't have any negative thoughts inside me tonight. I closed out the match at the first opportunity and that's because of the positive energy I had."

On the other side of the draw, Djokovic maintained his hopes of a third Rome Masters title and 19th Masters Series crown although he was forced to dig deep to beat a tenacious David Ferrer 7-5 4-6 6-3 in a high-quality quarter-final.

Wimbledon champion Murray won the first five games in a blistering opening in which he limited Nadal to a handful of opportunities, including three wasted break points in the third game.

Yet Nadal came back strongly at the start of the second set, winning the first three games after Murray took a knock to his right knee stretching for a shot that hindered his movement around the court.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to David Ferrer of Spain during their men's quarter-final singles match at the Rome Masters tennis tournament May 16, 2014. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito