Rafael Nadal hit the wall at the quarter-final stage for the second time in as many years at Queen’s club, suffering a 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-1 loss to Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on a rain-plagued Friday, as he duplicated his 2010 exit.
2008 winner Nadal, was unable to consolidate after winning the first set against Tsonga, whom he had beaten on five of six previous occasions. The Spanish top seed began to fade in the second, as he lost serve in the ninth game and found himself level-pegging a game later, as Tsonga took the second set.
In the third, the Frenchman ran away with it against a fatigued opponent for victory in their first meeting on grass.
“I played great, amazing,” Tsonga said. “I hope to carry on.
“I never felt I could win until the end,” he confessed. “But I stayed focused and did it.” Tsonga will play a semi-final against Briton James Ward, who needed eight match points to finally overcome Adrian Mannarino of France 6-2, 6-7 (14-16), 6-4.
It is the first time in the history of the event that two locals have gone this far.
Nadal looked in a hurry to head home, to Mallorca, for a few much-needed days of down-time after winning his sixth French Open, and stepping directly onto the grass.
“I had a tough Roland Garros, a tough clay-court season,” said the number one ranked Nadal. “I played all the matches possible this last four or five months, my results were fantastic and I’m very happy for everything. I tried in all the moments, in doubles, in singles. I tried to practise hard. Hopefully it was a good preparation for me. I’m sorry for the tournament because I had my chance to be in the semifinals, but it wasn’t possible today.” Andy Murray and Andy Roddick set up a semi-final at the prime Wimbledon tune-up, with Murray going through on a walkover as opponent Marin Cilic retired with ankle and knee problems before even taking to the court.
Roddick, a four-time champion, defeated Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2, surviving one of three rain interruptions on a day when Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron showed up to watch, late afternoon.
The American was motoring when the weather hit, leading a set and 3-1. Following nearly two hours off court, the third seed finished up on his fourth match point to improve to 36-5 at Queen’s.
Roddick beat Murray in their last meeting at Wimbledon two years ago.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of surprises either way,” he said about facing Murray again for the 11th time on the ATP.
“We’re two guys who are comfortable on this surface.
“It’s certainly going to be tough. He’s played a lot of matches and he’s playing well.” Murray will no doubt be pleased to have another recuperation day for his fast-improving ankle problem, which he played through into the Roland Garros semis, where he lost to Nadal.
“I would have rather played today, obviously, gotten another match on the grass. It wasn’t to be. I just have to take this day as a rest day, which in some ways is probably a good thing.” The Scot has gone off painkillers for the problem, but is still taking anti-inflammatories.