The sixth seed got off to a great start with a comfortable hold and a break of serve at the first time of asking, but in a marathon third game Nadal broke back to being things level.
Neither man was able to hold on to his own serve and two more consecutive breaks followed, before they finally managed to start holding, with Ferrer taking the first set on a tie-break comfortably despite losing the first point.
In the second set Ferrer got first blood with a break in the third game, before claiming another to make it 5-2. However, when serving for the match he lost his nerve as Nadal battled back to 5-4, before the sixth seed managed to see out the set 6-4.
Ferrer now moves on to join Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.