By Nick Mulvenney

"I think he can win the next four grand slams, no?" said the Spaniard. "Rafael is one of the best three players in the history of tennis. He is a young player. He can do it."

Nadal was hindered after the third game of his 6-4 6-2 6-3 defeat but declined to discuss the specifics of the injury, partly out of respect for his 28-year-old "close friend."

The seventh-seeded Ferrer said he could have done little else but continue to execute his gameplan even if his fellow Spaniard was clearly unable to move freely.

"It's not easy because Rafa is a gentleman and he played with an injury as we are friendly," Ferrer added. "I fought a lot but for him with the injury it was not easy.

"I played aggressive, I tried to go to the net, but if Rafael was not injured I wouldn't have won in three sets. It's one big point for me but it's not a victory really."

Ferrer will meet British fifth seed Andy Murray Friday with a place in Sunday's final against Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic at stake.

"The next match against Andy, it's another match in my career," he said. "I will just need to fight a lot, like every match of my life."

One man backing him will be Nadal.

"He's playing fantastic," said the nine-times grand slam champion. "If he keeps playing like this, hopefully he can have a good chance to be in the final or win the tournament.

"I would love that. He's a fantastic person. He's a close friend of mine. So I wish him all the best."

(Editing by Ken Ferris)