Injured Nadal’s Slam sweep ended by Ferrer in quarter-finals

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MELBOURNE - Rafael Nadal Wednesday tweaked a left hamstring in the second game of his quarter-final against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, who ended the Grand Slam dream of his compatriot 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in an Australian Open quarter-final.

Nadal, who had been seeking to complete a “Rafa Slam” of titles four straight non-calendar year majors, lost a 17-minute second game of the match, dropping serve as he appeared to be dealing with a left hamstring problem.

His last defeat at a Slam was at Melbourne Park a year ago when he had to quit against Andy Murray in a quarter-final due to knee troubles. Ferrer, seeded seventh, will play in his second semi-final at a major, taking on Murray, who beat Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3.

It was Ferrer’s fourth victory against Nadal against 11 losses, with his last victory in 2007. Nadal had won their previous seven encounters.

Nadal had reached the semi-finals at nine of the last 11 Grand Slams.

Ferrer knew immediately that something was not right with his celebrated Davis Cup teammate. “It’s not easy, it was hard work. But Rafa was not at his best. I fought a lot and played aggressive and got to the net.”

“But if Rafa was injured it’s not a true victory,” he said. “I knew he couldn’t run but I stayed focussed on my game and my tennis. I’m very happy, it’s an amazing win for me.”

Murray got a taste of what it is like for others to face his own attack as he played the 22-year-old Dolgopolov.

“It’s very tough to face him, every point is different,” said the Scot. “He doesn’t hit the same on any of them, I struggled with my rhythm early, but I thought I did well.”

Murray lost his first set of the fortnight as Dolgopolov prevented another straight-set sweep for the fifth seed. But Murray staged a recovery as he won the first dozen points of the fourth set.

“I had to go for my shots more. I was tentative in the tiebreaker and missed a few easy forehands. But I got off to a good start and it settled me down,” Murray said.

In the women’s quarters, Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters set up a re-run of a 2010 Grand Slam final as they each survived loud off-court distractions to post straight-set wins into the semi-finals.

The Australia Day holiday provided its share of off-putting moments in both quarter-finals, with second seed Zvonareva dealing with the shock from a nearby 21-gun salute and Clijsters was startled in her match by a low fighter jet flyover.

Zvonareva beat Czech Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-4 while third seed Clijsters stopped Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). The winners last met in the US Open final in the autumn, won by Clijsters.

The Belgian admitted that she ducked a bit as jets roared overhead. “They seemed to be flying pretty low over the stadium. I was happy to see them go,” said the only Grand Slam winner remaining in the field.

The booming celebration also rattled Zvonareva in a game in which Kvitova secured a break for 3-2 in their second set. There was also a lapse as play was halted so that medics could attend to an ill spectator.

“The cannon noise was a difficult moment,” admitted Zvonareva. “I knew it was a holiday but I didn’t know they would start up when they did.

“I tried to keep my concentration and focus on my game. I think I did that really well.”

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