Improving Murray falls just short as Nadal continues to shine

Andy Murray lost in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Masters last night but the world No 4 will head for the French Open next week in good heart.

For the second time in a fortnight Murray was beaten by David Ferrer, who was won more matches on clay than any other player this season, but it was arguably the Scot's best performance on the surface this year.

Ferrer won in 96 minutes when the two men met in Rome, but this time the world No 12 was detained for 35 minutes longer before winning 7-5, 6-3 to secure a semi-final today against Roger Federer. With Rafael Nadal facing Nicolas Almagro, Federer will be the gatecrasher at a Spanish party.

Murray, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today, has improved with each match during the clay-court season but was unfortunate to meet an opponent who has won a remarkable 27 matches on the surface this year. Ferrer struck the ball beautifully from the start and raced into a 3-0 lead. Murray, never the less, played his way back into the match, which quickly developed into a contest of the highest quality.

From 5-2 down Murray won three games in a row and forced a break point at 5-5, but Ferrer held firm. In the following game the Scot saved a first set point with a superb cross-court backhand but could do nothing as Ferrer struck a forehand winner on the second. The Spaniard seemed to have taken a decisive grip when he again won the first three games at the start of the second set, but Murray brought the score level before Ferrer made what proved a decisive break to lead 5-3.

Nadal's bandwagon showed no signs of slowing down as the world No 3 raced into the semi-finals with a crushing 6-1, 6-3 victory over Gaël Monfils. Nadal's 13th win in his 13 matches on clay this year puts him within one victory of taking back the No 2 position in the world rankings from Novak Djokovic. He is chasing his third successive Masters Series title and his 18th overall, which would be a record.

Nadal could be on course for a final rematch tomorrow with Federer, who beat the Spaniard 12 months ago. Federer reached the last four by beating Ernests Gulbis 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, avenging his defeat by the Latvian in Rome a fortnight ago.

Aravane Rezai provided one of the surprises of the week in the women's tournament, beating Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-4. The Frenchwoman now plays Lucie Safarova, who beat Nadia Petrova. The improving Shahar Peer reached her fifth semi-final of the year when she beat Li Na 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. She next meets Venus Williams, who dropped only five games against Sam Stosur.

*Nikolay Davydenko and Kim Clijsters have withdrawn from the French Open, which begins next weekend, due to wrist and ankle injuries respectively.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments