CINCINNATI, Ohio - Rafael Nadal survived the carnage to advance to the semi-finals of the Montreal Masters on Friday with a 5-7 6-4 6-3 defeat of long-time rival Roger Federer.
The win keeps Nadal on track for a possible rise to second in the world behind Novak Djokovic if he can win the event and claim his third hardcourt title of an unblemished season on cement.
Federer won the opening set but could not hold off his Spanish opponent.
"Credit to him for hanging in and getting back some tough shots," said the five-time champion. "I have some disappointment, I could have played better late in the second and early in the third.
"But my tactics were working most of the time. I did pretty well.
"I served well for most of the match, but when I didn't he was able to step it up — that was the match right there."
Nadal improved to 21-10 against his top rival, including wins in all of their three matches this year.
The 17-time grand slam champion Federer will fall out of the top five for the first time in well over a decade after he could not maintain momentum from a near-perfect first-set effort.