The eight-time champion lost a first-set tie break before twice dropping his serve in the second as sixth seed Ferrer sealed a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 victory.
All losses feel bad, but especially on clay. I’m not playing well
“When your opponent is doing things better than you, the normal thing is to lose,” said world No1 Nadal. “That’s what happened today. I’m not happy with how I’m playing.
“All losses feel bad, but especially on clay. I’m not playing well.”
Ferrer, who had only beaten Nadal once before on clay – a decade ago – said: “I have had to wait 10 years to beat him on clay. It was a long wait but I am pleased with the win and the way I played.”
Elsewhere, Roger Federer came from behind to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2-6 7-6 6-1 and will play Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
The Swiss, who missed 15 straight break points against the Frenchman, said: “Many things went wrong at the wrong time for me: Jo playing well, me playing wrong at certain times, wrong shot selections. [But] I’m happy I found the way to tough it out.”
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