LONDON: World number one Rafael Nadal suffered his first defeat in 25 matches by compatriot and close friend Feliciano Lopez in the quarter-finals at Queen’s Club with defending champion Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic following suit.
Nadal’s 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 defeat, Murray’s exit to Mardy Fish and second seed Djokovic’s defeat the day before meant none of the top six seeds have made it to the semi-finals of the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event. Four-time Queen’s champion Roddick, fifth seed Marin Cilic and Gael Monfils, the sixth seed, have bowed out already.
The Spaniard lacked rhythm right from the start 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, after which Lopez made an early break in the second set. Nadal did break back but another poor service game presented Lopez with the chance to convert his second match point.
Nadal had needed treatment for a strain during his victory over Denis Istomin on Thursday, after which the French Open champion never seemed completely comfortable against Lopez.
Murray outgunned by Fish
Fish defeated the Scot 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7/2) in their controversial third-round clash.
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. Although there was no visible sign of discord between the players, both were determined not to give an inch and a succession of easily held service games sent the match to a tie-break. Murray’s flashing return winner gave him an early mini-break, but he dropped five of the next six points to hand Fish the initiative.
A tame forehand into the net from Murray gave Fish four match points and he was soon celebrating as the British number one sent a backhand long.
Meanwhile, world number three Djokovic was ousted 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 by Belgium’s Xavier Malisse on Thursday.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 12th, 2010.
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