Australian Open - Ferrer exposes Nadal injury to reach semis

Wed, 26 Jan 11:27:00 2011

A tearful Rafael Nadal was stunned 6-4 6-2 6-3 by fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the Australian Open quarter-finals, ending his quest to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once.

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A leg injury suffered early in the match made the world number one's quest to become only the third man, and first since 1969, to achieve the feat almost impossible.

Nadal, the 2009 Melbourne champion, took an early medical timeout after appearing to tweak his left hamstring, shaking his head as he trudged off Rod Laver Arena.

The nine-times Grand Slam champion returned with his thigh strapped but was clearly in pain, wincing and muttering to his uncle and coach Toni.

Nadal was keen not to ascribe the defeat to his injury.

"It's a difficult day for me," a glum-looking Nadal said afterwards. "Obviously I didn't feel at my best, I had a problem at the beginning and after that the match was almost over.

"I hate retiring. I hated that last year and I didn't want to repeat that," added Nadal, whose 2010 challenge ended at the same stage when he retired hurt against Britain's Andy Murray.

"I prefer we don't talk too much about the injury. First thing, I don't know (what it is) and also out of respect for the winner.

"It seems like I always have a problem when I lose, I don't want to have that image."

"It's not easy because Rafa is a gentleman and he played with injury as we are friendly," said Ferrer, who will play Andy Murray in the semi-final, after the fifth seed beat Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5 6-3 6-7(3) 6-3.

"I played aggressive, I tried to go to the net, but if Rafael was not injured, I wouldn't have won in three sets," he added after reaching his second Grand Slam semi-final, and first since the 2007 US Open when he also knocked out Nadal.

"It's one big (achievement) for me but it's not a victory really. These last two weeks have been unbelievable. I will try to do my best to win a slam."

Seventh seed Ferrer, who had lost 11 of his previous 14 meetings with Nadal, including the last seven, showed no mercy, ripping shots to all corners to keep the pressure on.

A tortured Nadal slumped in his seat with his head in his hands after another thumping forehand down the line gave Ferrer a two-set lead.

Moments later, he was choking back tears after Ferrer tore into a 3-0 lead in the third but he battled like a true champion to get on the board, even forcing a break point at 4-2 down.

However, Ferrer kept his nerve and closed out the quarter-final with another big forehand after two hours and 33 minutes.

Nadal exited the year's first Grand Slam at the same stage and in the same manner in 2010, also on Australia Day, retiring with a knee injury against Britain's Murray.

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