The Wimbledon warm-up at Queen’s club was left without a marquee player on Friday as top-seed Rafael Nadal crashed out only hours after the exit of holder Andy Murray.
Fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, seeded eighth, upset Nadal 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 a day after the five-time French Open winner needed three sets to defeat Uzbek Denis Istomin for a quarterfinal place.
American Mardy Fish finished up a darkness-interrupted match from the night before, completing a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-2) win over Murray, who won the title a year ago.
Since Thursday, the tournament has also lost four-time champion Andy Roddick, second seed Novak Djokovic and number five Marin Cilic.
Nadal was treated in his previous match for a leg problem but had said he would be fit to face Lopez, against whom he has won the pair’s last five meetings without the loss of a set.
But the 28-year-old underdog, whose favourite surface is grass, ended his compatriot’s 24-match win streak this season on a second match point as Nadal plowed a backhand into the net.
“This was one of my best matches on grass,” said Lozez, twice a Wimbledon quarterfinalist. “I played great, very consistent and solid. I only lost serve once.
“Playing Rafa is tough no matter what the surface. On clay he’s unbeatable, but on grass I know I have some chances.
“But I had to show very good tennis and be aggressive. I did and it worked, I’ve finally won (since 2003 when he took the pair’s first meeting). I’m so happy.” The Spaniard said that with the big names all gone, he can think about a possible third career title after earning his second at Johannesburg this year.
Murray was sent out by Fish in a concluding tiebreaker, which the Scot said could have gone either way.
“It was a bit of a shootout,” said Murray. “On grass (with) no breaks, very few points against a serve. You play one or two bad points in a tiebreak and it’s done.
“I didn’t play particularly well yesterday, and today I played two, three bad shots and you lose the match.” The contest was stopped on Thursday without Murray being officially notified after Fish had complained of bad light in the third set.
With the score level at 3-3, the pair were sent off court. Murray said he never actually got the word, which annoyed him more than anything else. He then tried to paper over the cracks.
“I was just disappointed with was that no one said a word to me about it,” said the Scottish third seed. “I wouldn’t say that I was angry.
“You would think in a sport like this, you would be consulted or something would have been mentioned to you.” The win put Fish into the quarterfinals against French 12th seed Michael Llodra.
“It was extremely dark last night, I asked at 3—2 to quit,” said the American who was beaten by Murray in west London at last year’s event.
“We played one more game, and chair to stop, I didn’t plead or anything.”
Keywords: Queen’s club championship