Rafael Nadal had to struggle with bad weather, poor conditions and an injury scare to finally get past Denis Istomin 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4 and reach the quarterfinals at Queen’s Club on a rainy Thursday.
Belgian Xavier Malisse came out of nowhere to upset cranky second-seed Novak Djokovic 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, with the Serb complaining that conditions were not right for his game.
It was even worse for holder Andy Murray with the Scot protesting to no avail as American opponent Mardy Fish managed to convince officials it was too dark to play at 8:30 pm on the gloomy day.
The pair were level 4-6, 6-1, 3-3 when Fish got permission to leave the court, leaving third-seed Murray to argue pointlessly about the reasoning behind the decision, after mounting a comeback in the second set and taking all the momentum into the third as he recovered from 0-3 down.
Nadal took treatment for a suspected leg problem after the second set and also had to endure a rain interruption at 4-4 in the opener that lasted over an hour.
The dramatic contest was only decided after three consecutive breaks of serve, following Istomin’s salvage of two match points in the ninth game of the last set.
Nadal finally moved through with relief on his third chance, a return winner, a game later.
“He has a good serve,” said the winner, who has now captured his last 24 matches dating back more than two months. “It was a difficult day for me.
“There was a lot of wind. When you have the wind, the ball stays lower. For me, with sunshine, the court is true. I’ve played a lot of matches here with good sunshine.
“I called the trainer because I felt something behind my leg and wanted to make sure it was nothing bad. I want to be ready to play tomorrow.”
Four-time champion Andy Roddick was knocked out by diminutive Dudi Sela, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8).
Sela used a solid strategy to stun the American winning into a match-up with German veteran Rainer Schuettler, who advanced when injured Richard Gasquet could not play with a back injury.
“He played great, credit to him,” said Roddick of Sela. “I think he had a very specific game plan, and he executed it very well.
“He never dug himself a hole on any service games, never had any sloppy errors. He played a really good match, he outplayed me today.” Roddick fired 10 aces but was unable to get past the tenacious game of Sela, who denied Roddick a 30th grass victory at Queen’s.
“I didn’t serve that great but when the points started from the back of the court, I knew I was better than him. He didn’t play his best today and that gave me a chance. I had nothing to lose today so I just fought.
“My hope is to go as far as I can. Every round that I’m winning, it’s a bonus for me.” France’s Michael Llodra beat fifth seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 as the Croatian exited in both singles and doubles on the grass.
Keywords: Queen’s club championship