World number one Nadal, chasing a record-extending ninth Roland
Garros title, had no answer to the fifth seed's pace on court
Suzanne Lenglen in the first set.
But Ferrer, one of three men who have beaten the claycourt machine
on his favourite surface this year, ran out of steam in the second
before Nadal devoured him in the third.
Nadal won 10 games in a row - and 13 of the last 14 - to wrap up
victory on his first match point, setting up a meeting with
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray who beat local favourite Gael Monfils
6-4 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-0 in the last eight.
"David on clay? He is one of the best players of the world. He gets
better and better. I'm sorry for him today," Nadal told reporters.
"In the first set I made too many mistakes with my backhand," he
Ferrer was on fire in the opening set, piercing Nadal's concrete
defence with his devastating forehand.
Nadal, who has a 64-1 record on the Paris clay, realised in the
opening set he was in for a dogfight.
At the end of a 31-shot rally, he unleashed one of his trademark
forehands down the line and paused for a fraction of second as if
certain it had done the job. But Ferrer retrieved the shot with a
chopped forehand that landed in the open court, out of Nadal's
Ferrer, as quick between his serves as Nadal is slow, took the set
on his opponent's serve with a forehand winner into the corner.
Then, however, things started to click for the King of clay.
"The dynamic of the match changed. Even if the match was close in
the second, even if he had some break points to come back, the
dynamic was better for me," said Nadal.
"I was able to make that change. That's important and very
Nadal broke for 2-1 with a stunning backhand down the line. Ferrer
had three chances to break back in the sixth game but could not
[to top of second column]
From then on, Nadal rolled on towards his 22nd win over Ferrer in 28
meetings, making no unforced errors in the third set.
He carries into Friday's semi-final clash a 14-5 record against
Murray, whom he has beaten five times out of five on clay for the
loss of two sets.
The clash is a rematch of the 2011 semi-final, which Nadal won in
straight sets. The Spaniard will start as the overwhelming
favourite, according to Ferrer.
"I think he's going to play a lot better next match," he said.
Nadal, however, maintained his usual modest approach, saying Murray
remains a formidable opponent even on clay.
"Andy can play on all surfaces. He can play really well on clay.
There's nothing in his game that would prevent him from playing
really well on clay," he said.
At the Rome Masters last month, Murray won the first set of their
quarter-final clash 6-1 before fading away.
"Andy is really good with footwork, and his backhand sometimes can
be very aggressive," said Nadal.
"Therefore, I think that he can really go deep. He can win many
points on his serves, which really helps him."
(Editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)
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