MONACO (AP) — Top-ranked Rafael Nadal lost to Spanish compatriot David Ferrer 7-6 (1), 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Friday, his earliest exit at the Monte Carlo Masters in 11 years.
While he beat Nadal just last year, Ferrer hadn't beaten him on clay since 2004, in the first of their 27 career meetings.
The sixth-seeded Ferrer next faces third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, who reached his first semifinals since winning the Australian Open after beating eighth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 7-6 (5), 6-2.
A day after becoming the 11th man in the Open era to reach 300 wins on clay, Nadal committed 44 unforced errors and was broken four times in the face of Ferrer's relentless attack. Ferrer lost his own serve three times in the 2-hour, 13-minute match.
"It was a tough loss, all losses feel bad but especially on clay," Nadal said. "I didn't play the right way, I didn't have the intensity in my legs."
"I played too short. I give him the chance to have the control of the point almost all the time. The feeling on court was not the best one."
Nadal won eight consecutive Monte Carlo titles from 2005-12 before he lost last year's final to Novak Djokovic.
"Rafael is difficult to beat on a clay court, but not only on clay court, on all the surfaces," Ferrer said. "He's not a machine, no? Sometimes he can play not so good. Maybe today he doesn't play his best tennis, and I played very good."
Nadal struggled badly on his serve, facing 10 break points in an attritional match where the first six games alone took 45 minutes.
"I'm not playing well right now and I'm not happy with how I'm playing," said Nadal, who has also lost his last three matches against Djokovic in straight sets.
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