The world’s top two tennis players, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, both suffered shock defeats on Friday, while Rafael Nadal stormed back to beat long-time rival Roger Federer at the ATP & WTA Cincinnati Masters.
No. 3 Nadal booked a spot in the semifinals by rallying past Federer, with the Swiss player saving four match points in a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 loss.
The pair has met a total of 31 times, with Nadal winning 21 of those.
Federer suffered only his second loss in the last five editions in Cincinnati.
World No. 1 Djokovic fell 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-5 to unseeded John Isner as the Serb’s attempt to set another tennis record ended in defeat.
Had Djokovic beaten the American he would have kept alive a bid to become the first man to win all nine Masters 1000 titles in his career.
Two-time champion Murray was eliminated 6-3, 6-4 by Tomas Berdych, leaving the Scot to head for New York and his US Open title defence, with plenty to work on.
The second seed fired 10 aces but was betrayed as he missed on all four of his break points. Berdych has now beaten Murray twice this season after beating him in Madrid on clay.
del Potro in last four
Isner set up a semifinal with 2009 U.S. Open winner Juan Martin del Potro, who beat qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
del Potro said he won despite dealing with pain in his left wrist. The Argentine missed much of the 2010 season with a wrist problem and remains cautious.
del Potro needed one and three-quarter hours to get past veteran Russian Tursunov, with the Argentine hammering 15 aces and breaking three times. del Potro reached the semifinals in 2012 where he lost to Djokovic.
The women’s quarterfinal matches were dominated by world No. 1 Serena Williams, who raced through a 16-minute opening set en route to an easy 6-0, 6-4 win over Romanian Simona Halep.
Williams next plays holder Li Na, after the Chinese fifth seed advanced a day earlier when Agnieszka Radwanska withdrew to attend the funeral of her grandfather in Poland.
Former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic beat Italy’s Roberta Vinci 6-0, 6-4 to reach a fifth semifinal this season.
Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin knocked out Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek to advance to the semifinals.
The eighth-seeded Indo-French team eked out a 6-3, 6-7(3), 10-8 win over the fourth-seeded Indo-Czech combination.
Bopanna is now seeking his second consecutive Cincinnati final when he and Roger-Vasselin face the Spanish duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.
Granollers and Lopez, currently No. 3 in the Emirates ATP doubles team rankings standings, dispatched Poles Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-4, 6-2 in the other quarterfinal.
Men: Quarterfinals: John Isner bt Novak Djokovic 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-5; Juan Martin del Potro bt Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 3-6, 6-1; Tomas Berdych bt Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4; Rafael Nadal bt Roger Federer 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Doubles: Rohan Bopanna & Roger-Vasselin bt Leander Paes & Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-7(3), 10-8; Marcel Granollers & Marc Lopez bt Mariusz Fyrstenberg & Marcin Matkowski 6-4, 6-2.
Women: Quarterfinals: Li Na w/o Agnieszka Radwanska; Jelena Jankovic bt Roberta Vinci 6-0, 6-4; Serena Williams bt Simona Halep 6-0, 6-4; Victoria Azarenka bt Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 7-6(5). — Agencies