ROME - World No.1 Rafael Nadal dug deep to maintain his chances of defending his Rome Masters tennis title with a gutsy come-from-behind 1-6 6-3 7-5 win over Andy Murray yesterday in the quarter-finals.
Murray had won only five of his past 18 matches against Nadal but held the bragging rights from their most-recent two — the last a victory in the Tokyo Open final in 2011 — both hardcourt events.
Despite form doubts lingering following a long absence due to back surgery late last year, Murray produced a stunning performance to underline his form ahead of the French Open later this month.
"I feel liked I've played good matches and given him (Nadal) a lot of problems.
"I would have liked to have won tonight's match because I had the opportunities.
"I just messed it up a little bit. You don't get loads of chances ... so I'm disappointed at that.
"But he finished the match very well. He won the last three games."
The Scot won the opening set 6-1, leaving claycourt king Nadal to tinker with tactics.
In a much tighter third set, Nadal maintained his momentum by winning three breaks to two for Murray.
The Spaniard broke in the first game, only for Murray to break back immediately in the second in which the Scot pull off a stunning pull-back shot which stunned Nadal and had the crowd in raptures.
"I don't know how he hit the ball, you don't expect a shot like this," admitted the Spaniard.
"I played a poor game at 4-2 (up). I rushed a little bit. I was being very patient for most of the match and waiting for the right ball," added Murray.