Ferrer set for mission 'impossible' against Nadal

David Ferrer of Spain celebrates victory in his men's singles quarter-final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain during day 11 of the French Open at Roland Garros on Wednesday in Paris. (PARIS)

Such is Rafael Nadal's vice-like grip on the French Open that his semifinal opponent David Ferrer concedes beating him is "almost impossible".

Ferrer is a claycourt specialist who has dropped only one set en route to the last four culminating in a straightforward victory over fourth seed Andy Murray on Wednesday.

But such is the six-time champion Nadal's dominance in Paris, that Ferrer knows the odds are stacked enormously against him when the pair meet on Friday.

"I think you can win a set against Rafa, but there is a difference between winning a set and winning a match," he told reporters.

"Winning a match against Rafa is almost impossible. He is in such good shape."

Ferrer has won only four of 15 matches against the Mallorcan battler and his only claycourt success came eight years ago.

The pair have played twice this year, in Spain and in Rome, and Nadal has won both without conceding a set.

"Each match is different. In Godo, I had to be slightly more aggressive and I made mistakes.

"In Rome it was different, because I had opportunities to win a set, but he played extremely well - I tried."

Murray's hopes of ending Britain's 76-year wait for a Grand Slam men's champion stalled again on Wednesday when he was defeated 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-2 by Spain's David Ferrer in the quarter-finals.

Murray, bidding to reach a second successive French Open semifinal, comfortably matched his opponent in the gruelling, big-hitting rallies, but was undone by 59 unforced errors.

Despite trailing 5-4 in their career meetings, Ferrer had a 3-0 advantage on clay and the 30-year-old was quickly into his stride on Wednesday, breaking for a 3-1 lead and carving out a set point in the eighth game which Murray saved.

The Scot broke to 4-5 but in the 10th game, Ferrer converted a set point thanks to a netted Murray forehand drive.

It had been a tight opener, but Murray's 19 unforced errors proved fatal to his hopes and it was the third time in five matches in Paris this year that he had lost the first set.

The bruising hitting continued in the second set, under heavy, rain-filled skies as breaks were shared in the first and second and then seventh and eighth games.

Murray then played an impressive tie-breaker to level the match.

The world number four was 1-0 ahead in the third when rain sent the players ducking for cover for 30 minutes.

On the resumption, Ferrer broke 2-1, had break points in the fifth game before Murray levelled at 3-3.

But the terrier-like Ferrer kept snapping and pressing, clinching another break for a 4-3 lead and wrapping up the third set on his third set point in the ninth game when Murray unleashed a wild forehand.

Breaks were shared again for 1-1 in the fourth set before Ferrer nipped ahead for 3-1, backed up by a hold for 4-1.

Murray had two points to break back in the seventh game, but the Spaniard hung grimly on for a 5-2 lead as the British player continued to remonstrate with himself.

Ferrer carved out two match points, one of which was saved but the tie was his when Murray pushed a backhand wide.