After an early loss on blue clay in Madrid in 2012, Rafael Nadal was back at his best in Caja Magica in 2013, advancing into the semi-final for the fourth time in the last five years following a hard-fought 5-6, 7-6, 6-0 triumph over David Ferrer in two hours and 37 minutes.
It was an 18th win for Rafa over David in 22 encounters and the seventh in a row, standing two points away from losing in the closing stages of the second set before dominating in the rest of the clash since the tie break.
Ferrer served at only 49%, staying in touch in the opening two sets and moving just a couple of points from a notable victory, unable to make that last step and fading from the court in the decider, suffering seven breaks while stealing Nadal's serve five times.
Rafa sent a backhand long in the fourth game to give serve away, wasting his opportunities in the next game on the return before placing a lob winner at 2-4 to pull the break back and return to the positive side of the scoreboard.
Nadal held with a service winner to level the score at 4-4 before Ferrer raised his level again, holding at 15 and securing a break with a volley winner in the tenth game to grab the opener in 50 minutes. With no room for errors, Nadal broke at love in the third game of the second set to gain the advantage, staying in front only for a couple of minutes as David broke back with a marvelous forehand winner to lock the result at 2-2.
In the sixth game, Nadal saved a break chance with a volley winner before Ferrer found a way to clinch a break with a volley winner of his own, opening a 6-4, 4-2 gap and moving closer to the finish line. Nadal broke back in the next game to remain in contention, earning another break at 4-4 following a terrible backhand from Ferrer to serve for the set.
David broke back in the last moment to prolong the set, standing two points away from the finish line at 30-30 in game 12 before Nadal held to set the tie break. Rafa won it 7-3 after a service winner, surviving a grueling set that lasted for more than 70 minutes and becoming the favorite ahead of the decider.
Nadal saved a break point in the first game of the final set before Ferrer sent a forehand wide in game two, pushing Rafa in front and starting to lose ground. The champion from 2010 held in the next game with a service winner, placing a forehand down the line winner for a break and a 4-0 advantage before sealing the deal in game six, delivering a bagel and entering the last four.