MELBOURNE, Australia — Three times in the first four sets, David Ferrer faced the prospect of being ousted of the Australian Open by a fellow Spaniard who had never beaten him in a dozen competitive matches.
The No. 4-seeded Ferrer survived once in the third set and twice in the fourth when No. 10 Nicolas Almagro was serving for the match, but held firm and finally advanced to his fourth semifinal in six Grand Slam events with a 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-2 win today.
“It was (a) miracle I won this match, I think," Ferrer said. “I tried to fight every point, that’s my game. I always to fight."
Almagro dominated the first two sets and was serving for the match in the third when Ferrer bounced back, breaking in the crucial 10th game and then breaking his Davis Cup teammate again. The fourth set featured eight service breaks, and Ferrer finally took control in a tiebreaker to force a fifth set.
Ferrer will next play either Novak Djokovic, who is bidding for a third consecutive Australian title — unprecedented in the Open era — or No. 5 Tomas Berdych.
Li Na had an easier time as the first woman moving to the semifinals.
The sixth-seeded Li advanced to her third Australian Open semifinals in four years with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Agnieszka Radwanska, which ended the Polish player’s 13-match winning streak.
Li will play No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova, who had no trouble in beating fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, the 19th seed, 6-2, 6-2.
The quarterfinals on the other half of the draw will feature American teenager Sloane Stephens against Serena Williams, who is aiming for a third consecutive major title, and defending champion Victoria Azarenka against two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Williams and Azarenka advanced Monday, losing just four games between them against Russian rivals. Williams beat No. 14 Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0, and Azarenka defeated Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1.
On the men’s side, No. 2 Roger Federer and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray stayed on course for a semifinal in their half of the draw.
Federer won 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-2 over big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, advancing to the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam for the 35th consecutive time, while Murray took advantage of Gilles Simon’s fatigue for a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 victory.
Federer will face 2008 Australian finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat friend and fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Murray will next play unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.