By Simon Cambers
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Spanish terrier David Ferrer pulled off a miraculous escape to reach the Australian Open semi-finals on Tuesday but then said he would need something even more spectacular if he is to get to his first grand slam final.
The fourth seed recovered from two sets down to beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 4-6 4-6 7-5 7-6 6-2, three times breaking the 10th seed when he served for the match.
"It was a miracle I won this match," Ferrer said in a courtside interview. "I tried to fight and do my best but I need to play better than today in the next round."
Ferrer now plays either world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia or Czech Tomas Berdych for a place in the final.
The 30-year-old played back-to-back events in the build-up to the Australian Open but said he would be able to recover in time for his fifth grand slam semi-final.
"Of course I am tired," he said. "I ran a lot against Nico. Now I will need to rest but I have a day and a half."
Ferrer had won all 12 of his previous matches with Almagro, who was bidding for his first grand slam semi-final, but was staring defeat in the face as his opponent served for the match once in the third set and twice in the fourth.
"I think maybe this time I was very close to losing," he said. "(But) I am positive. I am in the semi-final. I think the tiebreak of the fourth set I played very good.
"And in the fifth, he was cramping, problems with his leg, so it was easier for me.
"In the second set, I didn't play good but in the third, I feel better with my game. I can play more aggressive. But the important thing is the victory, and I won."
Djokovic was embroiled in an epic fourth-round match with Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday and was due to take on Berdych in the quarter-finals later on Tuesday.
Providing the defending champion wins, Ferrer said he would have his work cut out to get revenge for his defeat at the same stage of last year's U.S. Open.
"Nole is a special player," Ferrer said. "He has every shot. Finally in the fifth set, Djokovic was better physically than Wawrinka and I think he will be recovered, for sure, because he is physically unbelievable.
"He's the best, I think.
"He's the number one of the world and he's the favorite to win the Australian Open. I will see the match tonight. But anyway I will have to play better than today for to win, for sure."
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)