Ruthless Rafa fires his friend, Murray out
UPDATED @ 09:31:06 AM 07-06-2012
PARIS, June 7— There is a reason why Rafa Nadal is called "the Boss" by Nicolas Almagro and on Wednesday the ruthless claycourt king fired his fellow-Spaniard in his pursuit of a record seventh Roland Garros title.
Nadal defeated Almagro 7-6 6-2 6-3 to put another Spaniard David Ferrer in the firing line in Friday's French Open semi-finals.
Ferrer made it through to his first Paris semi at the ripe old age of 30 after bouncing out British world number four Andy Murray 6-4 6-7 6-3 6-2 on a soggy day in the French capital.
So how did the sixth seed rate his chances of reaching Sunday's final?
"Winning a match against Rafa is almost impossible," he summed up bluntly.
At least Ferrer struck a blow for the 30-somethings. By joining Roger Federer, who turns 31 in August, in the last four, it is the first time since 1969 that two 30-year-olds have made it to the same stage at Roland Garros.
At 25, age was on Murray's side but unfortunately he failed to make that count.
The Briton, a semi-finalist last year, had never beaten a Spaniard on red dirt before Wednesday and the prospect of breaking that losing run against Ferrer looked bleak from the outset.
Ferrer had sliced through the draw with a perfect 12-0 sets record and, although he dropped his first set on day 11 of the championships, Murray never looked like he had the weapons to bulldoze past an opponent nicknamed "The Wall".
Along with Ferrer, Nadal and Almagro had also won 12 consecutive sets coming into the quarter-finals but by the end of the day only one man still held an intact record.
Nadal called his friend Almagro "one of the best players of the world".
His generosity, however, was nowhere to be seen on the court. He teased Almagro during a close first set and then moved in for the kill, finishing off his opponent with his 10th ace of the match.
Almagro has now faced Nadal eight times and eight times he was left gasping for air.
"I played one of the best matches I can play against Rafa, but he's the number one of the world on this surface," said Almagro.
"I knew that I would give everything I have to give because I know that against Rafa you have to play your best tennis.
"I wanted to fight all the way against him. I fought against Rafa, but he played a perfect match."
It was Nadal's 50th win at Roland Garros and, having not put a foot wrong, signs are the no one, not even Federer and Novak Djokovic who will contest the other semi-final, will be able to stop the rampaging Mallorcan from lifting the Musketeers' Cup on Sunday.
Maria Sharapova crept closer to fulfilling her burning desire to hold aloft the Suzanne Lenglen Cup by setting up a French Open semi-final date with Petra Kvitova.
Sharapova was greeted with menacing clouds and even a brief shower burst on Philippe Chatrier Court but performed a quick rain dance to slide into the last four with a 6-2 6-3 win over Estonian Kaia Kanepi.
The victory allowed her to skip off court in 74 minutes, leaving her plenty of free time to indulge in her favourite Parisian pastime of "people watching" and "eavesdropping", while over on Suzanne Lenglen Court fourth seed Kvitova was in danger of missing out on the semi-final party.
The Czech hauled herself back from 2-4 down in the final set before finally ending the adventure of 142nd-ranked Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6 6-2 6-4 to set up a meeting with the woman she beat in last year's Wimbledon final. — Reuters