WIMBLEDON, England — With his injured left foot numbed by anesthetics, Rafael Nadal surged right back into the Wimbledon semifinals.
The defending champion never seemed hampered by the foot injury that almost made him retire from his fourth-round match two days earlier, beating Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
It was another display of power tennis from the Spaniard, although he was quick to credit powerful pain killers for the victory.
"My foot is not fine," the top-ranked Nadal said. "But we are in quarterfinals of Wimbledon. It's an emergency, so I had to play. So we decided to (numb) a little bit the zone of the foot to play the rest of the tournament, and that's what I'm going to do. ... When you (numb) the foot before the match, the anesthetic is for five hours, so you don't feel nothing."
It didn't show much either as Nadal ran along the baseline to hit numerous passing shots to counter the American's strategy of repeatedly attacking the net. He appeared to be cruising toward an easy victory after breaking Fish to start the third set before a momentary lapse let his opponent back into the match.
Nadal hit several uncharacteristic errors to help Fish break right back, and the American broke again in the 12th game, hitting a forehand winner down the right sideline on his second set point.
But unlike Roger Federer – who lost in five sets to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earlier Wednesday – Nadal wasn't about to let a two-set lead slip away.
In the third game of the fourth set, he set up two break points with a perfect drop shot, and converted the first when Fish netted a forehand volley. He was never threatened after that and served out the match at love, finishing off his first match point with an easy volley.
He will face Andy Murray in the semifinals for the second year in a row, having beaten the Briton at the same stage at the French Open as well.
"I believe I can win against him. I had chances last year," Murray said after beating Feliciano Lopez in straight sets in their quarterfinal match. "I just have to have a better game plan. Sometimes it comes down to strategy. Sometimes it comes down to having more experience."
Murray is the only semifinalist to go through the past two rounds without dropping a set, and Nadal has been impressed with the Briton's play so far.
"Probably this year he has a little bit more experience," Nadal said. "He's playing very well, having (reached the) final in Australia, semifinals in Roland Garros, now semifinals another time here. So he's having a very successful season, in my opinion. So he's with big confidence. Anyway, the previous matches doesn't affect the match of Friday."
What could still affect the two-time Wimbledon champion is his foot.
He injured it during the first set of his victory over Juan Martin del Potro in the previous round, and said after the match he initially thought it was broken. But an MRI showed no serious injuries, and Nadal said he plans to keep using pain killing injections to get through the rest of the tournament.
Nadal beat Federer in the final in 2008 for his first Wimbledon title, but missed the 2009 tournament because of persistent knee problems. He returned last year, winning his second title.
"For me (this) is the last tournament in one month, or in one month and a half, so I have to try my best," Nadal said. "It's always for me a dream (to) play here in Wimbledon. I'm in quarterfinals and I had to (use anesthetics), and I'm going to do for semifinals, too."