Paris - Andy Murray's hopes of ending Britain's 76-year wait for a Grand Slam men's champion stalled again Wednesday when he was defeated 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-2 by Spain's David Ferrer in the French Open quarter-finals.
Sixth-seeded Ferrer reached his first Roland Garros semi-final where he will tackle compatriot and six-time champion Rafael Nadal on Friday for a place in Sunday's final.
"It will be a tough match against Rafa, he's the best in history on this surface, but I hope to have a good match," said Ferrer.
Murray, bidding to reach a second successive French Open semi-final, comfortably matched his opponent in the gruelling, big-hitting rallies, but was undone by 59 unforced errors.
Despite trailing 5-4 in their career meetings, Ferrer had a 3-0 advantage on clay and the 30-year-old was quickly into his stride on Wednesday, breaking for a 3-1 lead and carving out a set point in the eighth game which Murray saved.
The Scot broke to 4-5 but in the 10th game, Ferrer converted a set point thanks to a netted Murray forehand drive.
It had been a tight opener, but Murray's 19 unforced errors proved fatal to his hopes and it was the third time in five matches in Paris this year that he had lost the first set.
The bruising hitting continued in the second set, under heavy, rain-filled skies as breaks were shared in the first and second and then seventh and eighth games.
Murray then played an impressive tie-breaker to level the match.
The world No 4 was 1-0 ahead in the third when rain sent the players ducking for cover for 30 minutes.
On the resumption, Ferrer broke 2-1, had break points in the fifth game before Murray levelled at 3-3.
But the terrier-like Ferrer kept snapping and pressing, clinching another break for a 4-3 lead and wrapping up the third set on his third set point in the ninth game when Murray unleashed a wild forehand.
Breaks were shared again for 1-1 in the fourth set before Ferrer nipped ahead for 3-1, backed up by a hold for 4-1.
Murray had two points to break back in the seventh game, but the Spaniard hung grimly on for a 5-2 lead as the British player continued to remonstrate with himself.
Ferrer carved out two match points, one of which was saved but the tie was his when Murray pushed a backhand wide.
Results from Roland Garros on Wednesday:
Rafael Nadal (2), Spain, def. Nicolas Almagro (12), Spain, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-3.
David Ferrer (6), Spain, def. Andy Murray (4), Britain, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-2.
Maria Sharapova (2), Russia, def. Kaia Kanepi (23), Estonia, 6-2, 6-3.
Petra Kvitova (4), Czech Republic, def. Yaroslava Shvedova, Kazakhstan, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci (4), Italy, def. Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (12), Spain, 6-4, 6-2.
Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi (7), India, def. Galina Voskoboeva, Kazakhstan, and Daniele Bracciali, Italy, 6-4, 6-2.
Klaudia Jans-Ignacik, Poland, and Santiago Gonzalez, Mexico, def. Elena Vesnina, Russia, and Leander Paes (5), India, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.