Spanish Conquistadors Clash On Clay

David Ferrer French Open Contender
David Ferrer faces compatriot Rafael Nadal. Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au, Picture AFP

They are Spanish conquistadors, and for the 28th time, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer meet at ATP level. Rafa leads the head-to-head against his sultry countryman 21-6; in fact he’s beaten Ferrer eight times in finals, including at last year’s French Open 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

On the red clay of Roland Garros, Rafa’s domination is astounding. At the French Slam, Rafa’s record is 63-1 and he hasn’t dropped a set to Ferrer in three Roland Garros outings dating back to 2005.

But it’s not all bad news for Ferrer. He’s beaten Nadal twice in Slams – in the quarter finals of the 2011 Australian Open and the Round of 16 at the 2007 US Open. And the 32-year-old upset his more fancied compatriot at their last meeting 7-6, 6-4 in the quarters at the Monte Carlo Masters in April. That was on clay, but Rafa was still battling a debilitating back injury. On his way to the last eight, Ferrer has dropped just one set – to South Africa’s Kevin Anderson last start.

In his four matches this far into the tournament, no one has been able to take a set off the ‘king of clay’. Rafa has conceded just 23 games and looks on course for his ninth French Open title. For the man who has just turned 28, that would take his Grand Slam tally to 14.

In the other quarter final, Brit Andy Murray is across the net from crowd favourite Gael Monfils. In just over a decade, these two have met six times, with honours to Murray 4-2. It’s one-all at Roland Garros though. They haven’t faced each other since November 2010, when Monfils beat Murray at the quarters of the Paris Masters. The Frenchman was also successful the last time they clashed at the French Open.


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