MELBOURNE, Australia -- World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will not win a fourth straight Grand Slam title after he succumbed to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer and a leg injury in Wednesday's quarterfinal action at the 2011 Australian Open.
The seventh-seeded Ferrer took advantage of Nadal's misfortune en route to an easy 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 upset at Melbourne Park's Rod Laver Arena. The reigning French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Nadal was trying to become the first man in 42 years to capture four straight major titles. The Aussie legend Laver won all four majors, in the same year, in 1969 and 1962.
Nadal took an early medical timeout in the first set after tweaking his left hamstring. He was shaking his head while he left the court for some treatment.
The top seed returned with his thigh heavily taped, but he was clearly in pain and simply unable to produce on Day 10.
Ferrer showed no mercy as he ripped shots to all corners of the court en route to 44 winners in the 2-hour, 33-minute stunner.
Nadal fought back tears as he exited the court at Laver.
"This is a difficult day for me," Nadal said. "Today I can't do more than what I did, he played at a very high level."
Nadal, being pressed about the injury, said: "I don't have to tell you what I felt on the court, but it is obvious I did not feel at my best. I had a problem with the match at the very beginning, and after that, the match was almost over."
The 28-year-old Ferrer is now 4-11 lifetime against his countryman Nadal and will appear in his second career Grand Slam semifinal.
"This is one big victory for me, but it's not like a victory really," Ferrer said. "He was playing with injury...and I had luck. But I played my game."
Fireworks lit up the sky during the Ferrer-Nadal encounter on Australia Day. A pyrotechnics show outside the arena interrupted the match for about 10 minutes.
As the fireworks entertained, Nadal changed his shirt and briefly left the court.
Ferrer, a titlist in Auckland two weeks ago, will meet last year's Aussie Open runner-up Andy Murray here on Friday.
The nine-time Grand Slam winner Nadal, the 2009 Aussie Open champ, retired from his quarterfinal match against Murray here last year because of a knee injury.
Meanwhile, a fifth-seeded Murray reached the semis again with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 victory over rising Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. Dolgopolov couldn't return a cross-court forehand from Murray, sending it long to end the match in 3 hours, 6 minutes.
Murray overcame 16 aces and 57 winners from the 46th-ranked Dolgopolov by capturing 75 percent of his first-serve points. Murray tallied only 34 unforced errors, compared to 77 for the free-swinging Dolgopolov, and moved to 2-0 lifetime against the Ukrainian.
"It was a really good match. Andy played really well. I was trying to keep up," Dolgopolov said. "I think I was showing a pretty good match, he was just more solid."
Dolgopolov stunned former Aussie finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and two-time French Open runner-up Robin Soderling en route to his first-ever major quarterfinal.
The two-time major finalist Murray was the runner-up to Federer here last year.
The 23-year-old Murray is 2-3 lifetime against the 28-year-old Ferrer, but the Scot beat the Spaniard in their last meeting, in London, at the end of last season.
The first semifinal will be staged here on Thursday, when a second-seeded former No. 1 Federer takes on third-seeded former Aussie champ Novak Djokovic.
Federer is 13-6 lifetime against Djokovic, including a 1-1 mark here in Melbourne. The Swiss beat the Serb in straight sets in the fourth round here back in 2007 and lost to last year's U.S. Open runner-up Djokovic in the Aussie semis in 2008, the year the Serb titled in Melbourne. Djokovic also toppled Federer in last year's U.S. Open semis in a five-set classic.
The reigning Aussie champ and 16-time major winner Federer was a titlist in Doha three weeks ago.