On-song Nadal back to his best

This content was published 12 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali d’Italia.

2012 has been far from Rafael Nadal’s greatest year in tennis but the Spanish great sent out a warning to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and the rest with a virtuoso performance to beat in-form Tomas Berdych and qualify for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals.

Nadal’s superlative display was so good he declared it one of the finest of his career on red clay and the Rome public certainly got their money’s worth as they watched a true champion at work, including some incredible winners where the Majorcan ran around his forehand.

“I played one of my best match on clay against a difficult opponent,” said Nadal. “It was a big match and one of the higher quality matches this year because the level of the opponent is high. He plays with big confidence and I played under pressure all the time under the match and my chances on the return are few and far between and so I have to be focused. I did something fantastic and I went inside with my forehand and my movements were fantastic and yesterday I started to feel very well. I hit a few fantastic shots and this kind of shot comes with the confidence.”

Such a display had a vocal Centrale crowd right behind the man who is now world No.3. But he looked every inch the best player in the world on clay and on the evidence of this 6-4, 7-5 victory it is difficult to see who can challenge him, least of all his compatriot David Ferrer who he will face in the last four, a man he beat in the final of Barcelona last month.

“To play David I will run and fight a lot and I have to play better than in Barcelona,” suggested Nadal. “I don’t stop and its very difficult to play against him because he pushes all the time and I think I can do it. It is normal to lose a set and to lose a set against David is terrible. He is a very high level. I know I have to play my best tennis like today – to the limit and tomorrow is another day and I will do it.”

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