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Ferrer wins Spanish battle to reach Rome final

ROME, May 1, 2010 (AFP) - David Ferrer defeated a seemingly exhausted Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-3 in an all-Spanish semi-final Saturday to reach the final of the ATP Rome Masters 1000.

Ferrer, the 13th seed, will now meet the winner of the semi-final featuring Rafael Nadal and Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, who beat world number one Roger Federer in the second round.

Ferrer came into this match on the back of four straight defeats to Verdasco but the Spaniard continued the streak that has seen him win the most matches on tour this year to reach his first ever Masters level final.

Verdasco, seeded sixth, started well and raced into a 5-1 lead however he quickly appeared to pay for his three-hour marathon victory over world number Novak Djokovic on Friday.

Verdasco literally wilted under the hot sun and lost the next eight games in a row.

Having reached the final in Monte Carlo two weeks ago and won in Barcelona last week, he admitted he'd succumbed to tiredness.

"Up to 5-1 I was playing well but it was more a case of him making many unforced errors," he said.

"After that I was feeling tired but it wasn't since 5-1, it was since I woke up today.

"I think it's everything but the match yesterday was very long, very hard and physical.

"I was feeling good mentally but my body was not feeling the same as before. I was slower, I had less power and against a player like David it's tough." When he served for the set at 5-4 he gave up the break with a double fault and was broken again to lose the set when he sent a backhand past the baseline.

In a nervy opening both players were guilty of making unforced errors but as Ferrer tightened up his own game Verdasco continued to do so throughout the second set. Ferrer admitted he felt nervous at the beginning.

"In the first set I played very badly and was very nervous. Maybe in the second I was more relaxed and I had a better feel for my best shots," he said. "When I broke back for 5-3 it was easier for me and I had more confidence in my shots."

A couple of wild forehands saw Verdasco give up a break at the beginning of the second and when he then went down 40-0 on Ferrer's serve, it seemed as if the end was nigh. But somehow the 26-year-old managed to rally briefly and he fought back, and indeed broke back after a backhand winner down the line.

However, he was immediately broken again after another poor forehand sailed over the baseline and although he held serve twice more, he never looked like getting back into the match.

Verdasco finished with 38 unforced errors to Ferrer's 23 but his 28-year-old opponent crucially made only five of his in the second set.

 

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