Nadal and Murray beat fading light to set up semi-final

Wed Jun 4, 2014 6:13pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

PARIS (Reuters) - There is not much that spooks Rafa Nadal at the French Open but David Ferrer managed to do just that - for 49 bewitching minutes - before watching in despair as his fellow Spaniard turned into a man possessed to set up a semi-final with Andy Murray.

Facing a rival who had beaten him the last time they had met, Nadal could barely believe his eyes on Wednesday when he dropped his first set of the tournament at 7:36 p.m. local time.

If that gave Ferrer hope that he could join Robin Soderling as the only men to have beaten the eight-times champion at Roland Garros, Nadal quickly squashed those dreams into the red dust as he went on a 10-game rampage en route to inflicting a 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-1 defeat on his countryman.

While Nadal improved his mindboggling French Open win-loss record to 64-1, Murray was relieved to silence the pantomime boos that greeted his arrival on Philippe Chatrier Court.

As dusk fell over Paris, his 6-4 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-0 win over Gael Monfils not only earned him a place in his second semi-final in Paris, but also prolonged France's 31-year wait for a men's champion.

It was not long before Murray's thoughts turned to the challenge that lies ahead.

"Rafa has good memories on this court so it will be tough to play him," said the British seventh seed, who has not won a title since triumphing at Wimbledon last July.

While celebrations were kept to a minimum among the men who were simply glad to finish their matches under fading light, Andrea Petkovic joyously planted a kiss on her racket frame after she battled through drizzle and swirling winds to set up an unlikely semi-final showdown with Romanian Simona Halep.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to his compatriot David Ferrer during their men's quarter-final match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 4, 2014. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe