Rafael Nadal overcame Roger Federer 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the Madrid Masters final on Saturday on an emotional rollercoaster of a day which had started with a tearful, emotional tribute to Seve Ballesteros.
World number one Nadal stood side-by-side with old rival Federer in a minute's silence at the Caja Magica before a showreel of Ballesteros's greatest moments played out on the giant screens.
"It's a terrible day for Spain and the world. We lost a great champion, probably the greatest in the history of Spain," said Nadal of the 54-year-old golfing legend who lost his brave fight against cancer.
Despite the sombre occasion, Nadal went on to thrill his fans and reach his third Madrid final in three years where he will face either world number two Novak Djokovic or Brazilian outsider Thomaz Bellucci.
World number one Nadal will be bidding for his third clay title of the spring after Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
He has now beaten Federer in 11 of 13 meetings on clay and stands 16-8 overall in their epic series.
It was the third straight year the all-star pair had played in Madrid, with Federer winning the 2009 trophy and Nadal doing the same 12 months ago.
Nadal's victory on Saturday was his 37th straight on clay, a streak dating back to the French Open in 2009.
"I'm glad to have have won, but it was not our best match. It was an emotional day for me and Spain," added Nadal.
Federer now heads to the Rome Masters with a 26-7 record on the season and one title from Doha having played his last final in Dubai in February.
The Swiss world number three started the match poorly, losing his first service game which was marred by a double-fault and an over-hit forehand.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion also failed to convert any of three break points in a lengthy fourth game, with Nadal eventually stretching his leading margin to 4-2 with a love game.
But the Swiss worked his magic to get back to level-pegging, 4-4, and held in dramatic fashion after saving three break points in the 11th game for 6-5.
A sizzling Federer passing shot to the far reaches gave him a set point, which he finished cleanly with a down-the-line winner, breaking Nadal for the second time and taking the early lead after 64 minutes after winning nine of the last 11 points.
But the Swiss suffered a reversal in the first game of the second set, with Nadal breaking on a controversial ball seen good by chair umpire Mohamed Layhani to the dismay of Federer, who argued the point before getting back to work.
Federer seethed quietly throughout the set as Nadal squared the match.
In the decider, Federer went down a break 1-3 on a forehand called out by centimetres, then dropped serve in the next game.
It set the tone for the remainder, with Nadal scraping home on his first match point as Federer netted a backhand.