Top seed and world number one Rafael Nadal of Spain has been knocked out of the Australian Open by compatriot and "friend" David Ferrer.

Hampered by a thigh strain from the start of Wednesday's quarterfinal, the nine-time grand slam champion was visibly suffering as he went down 6-4 6-2 6-3 at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena to his Davis Cup teammate.

Ferrer's triumph -- his 4th  over Nadal from 15 encounters -- will now see the 28-year-old play in just his second grand slam semifinal, following his appearance in the last four of the U.S. Open in 2007.

The world number seven will face Britain's Andy Murray for a place in the final of the opening grand slam of 2011, after the world number five beat unseeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in the earlier match.

The result also means the end to 24-year-old Nadal's quest to become the first man since Australia's Rod Laver in 1969, to win four consecutive grand slam titles.

Nadal was clearly affected by a thigh problem during the match but, despite receiving off-court treatment after just the third game, refused to blame the loss on his injury.

Nadal showed flashes of his usual brilliance but any chance of a comeback in the second set was suppressed by Ferrer, who after a 10-minute break in proceedings for an Australia Day fireworks display, secured a double break of serve to lead the match by two sets to love.

Ferrer then raced to a 3-0 lead in what was to be the third and final set, before wrapping up the ultimately one-sided contest in just over two and a half hours.


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