groundstroke rallies ended by winners.
Nadal broke the serve of Simon in the first game of the match to set the tone early as he would cruise to a 6-3, 4-3 lead. Then all of a sudden Simon eliminated many of the errors which had plagued him earlier. A forehand down the line winner from Simon and a doublefault from Nadal yielded Simon's first break of serve of the match.
Simon reached 5-4 in set two before he lost serve to fall to 5 all on a Nadal backhand dropshot winner. Nadal fought through five deuces in the next game before being broken after three groundstroke errors. A Simon overhead winner on setpoint evened the match at 3-6, 7-5.
Simon would win a 33 stroke rally and fight through nine deuces to hold serve for 1-1 in the final set. However, midway through the set,
appearing once again as the favorite with the Madrid crowd firmly behind him, Nadal raced to a 4-2 lead before Simon would rally
to reach 5 all after three hours of play.
Two Nadal forehands hit wide resulted in a break of serve as Simon served for the match at 6-5. Four groundstroke errors later from Simon, the two players entered the third set tiebreaker.
Nadal took a 3-1 lead after connecting with an overhead winner. But extreme groundstroke pressure from Simon paid off as he took the next
four points to go ahead 5-3. Simon had scored the last two points won as a result of hitting flat backhands down the line to Nadal's backhand which forced two Nadal backhand errors.
Simon netted two forehands to level the tiebreaker 5 all before hitting big to force a Nadal forehand error to reach matchpoint at 6-5. Nadal saved matchpoint as a Simon lob would sail long to draw to 6 all.
But Nadal would slip on the court and miss a forehand to go down a second matchpoint at 6-7. A Nadal backhand hit long finished the match after 3 hours and 22 minutes of incredible shotmaking and drama.
Simon during the course of the match would strike 36 winners to Nadal's 28 winners, but possibly more telling would be Nadal's conversion of only 5 of 22 breakpoints for the day.
In the championship match Sunday, Simon takes on Andy Murray of Britain who upset world number two Roger Federer of Switzerland in the day's first semifinal.