Nadal in shock early exit Murray also joins list of top seeded players knocked out of Queen’s
RAFAEL NADAL suffered his first defeat in 25 matches as he was beaten by Feliciano Lopez in the quarterfinals at Queen’s Club yesterday, while defending champion Andy Murray also crashed out.
Not since Andy Roddick beat Nadal in the Miami semi-finals in March had the Spaniard walked off court a loser, but his compatriot and close friend Lopez brought that magnificent run to an end in emphatic fashion.
Nadal had needed treatment for a hamstring during his victory over Denis Istomin on Thursday and the French Open champion never seemed completely comfortable against Lopez.
The world number one’s 7-6 (7/5), 64 defeat and Murray’s exit to Mardy Fish earlier meant none of the top six seeds made it to the semi-finals of the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event.
Four-time Queen’s champion Roddick, second seed Novak Djokovic, fifth seed Marin Cilic and Gael Monfils, the sixth seed, had all bowed out already and Nadal fared no better.
Nadal lacked rhythm as Lopez, the world number 31, dictated the tempo with a sturdy baseline game.
The first set went to a tie-break and Lopez’s nerve held impressively as he earned the crucial mini-break that settled the set in his favour.
That kind of blow is usually the signal for Nadal to double his intensity and secure a gritty victory. But he never got going as Lopez made an early break in the second set.
Nadal broke back but another poor service game gave Lopez the chance to convert his second match point.
Concerned he might aggravate his injury Nadal pulled out of the doubles at Queen’s and didn’t seem too worried about exiting the singles either.
“I had too many missed opportunities and made an amazing mistake in the tie-break so that was the first set,” Nadal said. “And after that I played worse in the second set and he did well. I just congratulate him.”
Fish enjoyed a remarkable day as he ended Murray’s reign with a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7/2) win in their controversial third round clash.
The American, ranked 90th in the world, followed that triumph with another strong display just two hours later as he beat France’s Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4 in the last eight to set up a semi-final meeting with Lopez.
Murray had been left raging at Queen’s officials on Thursday evening after the tie was suspended due to bad light with the score 3-3 in the final set.
The world number four felt he should have been consulted by umpire Cedric Mourier and supervisor Tom Barnes before play was halted. Fish had added to Murray’s sense of injustice by leaving as quickly as possible, so inevitably there was an extra spice to proceedings when play resumed.
Although there was no visible sign of discord both players were determined and a succession of service games sent the match to a tie-break.
A tame netted forehand from Murray gave Fish four match points and he was soon celebrating as the British number one’s backhand was long.
Murray admitted he had been well below his best but he was still irked by the decision to suspend play.
“I have no idea what would have happened if we would have stayed out there (on Thursday),” he said. “The thing I was just disappointed with was that no one said a word to me about it.
“I wouldn’t say I was angry. It’s just you would think in a sport like this, you would be consulted or something would have been mentioned to you.
“The supervisor apologised to me afterwards because they should have said something to me at the time and they didn’t.” – Sapa-AFP
STILL FRIENDS: Feliciano Lopez of Spain and compatriot Rafael Nadal shake hands after their match at the Queen's Club Championships in west London yesterday. Lopez handed Nadal his first loss in 25 matches.