Nadal in shock early exit Mur­ray also joins list of top seeded play­ers knocked out of Queen’s

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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.

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