Nadal loses at quarter-finals, hopes over for 4 Slams in a row
Updated: 2011-01-27 10:14
Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his quarter-final match against compatriot David Ferrer at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne Jan 26, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
MELBOURNE, Australia - Rafael Nadal's bid to win four straight Grand Slam tournaments is over.
An injury-affected Nadal lost for the second straight year in the Australian Open quarterfinals, going down 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 Wednesday to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.
Nadal, who appeared to have tears in his eyes during a changeover while trailing 3-0 in the third set, took a medical timeout for an apparent leg injury after three games and was clearly out of sorts, failing to chase down balls that he would ordinarily return easily.
"Today I can't do more than what I did, he played at a very high level."
When pressed about the injury, Nadal added: "I don't have to tell you what I felt on the court, but it is obvious I did not feel at my best. I had a problem with the match at the very beginning, and after that, the match was almost over."
It was the second year in a row he lost in the quarterfinals here due to injury - in 2010 he retired against Andy Murray due to a right knee ailment that kept him off the tour for two months, again on the Australia Day national holiday.
"This is one big victory for me, but it's not like a victory really," seventh-seeded Ferrer said on court after the match.
"He was playing with injury ... and I had luck. But I played my game."
Nadal, who didn't bother chasing the winner on match point, won last year's French Open, Wimbledon and US Open and was trying to add the Australian title so he could hold all four major trophies at once. That hasn't been achieved since Rod Laver won four in a row in 1969.
Nadal didn't want to elaborate on his injury, saying he didn't want to use injuries as an excuse when he lost matches.
"In general, I had a virus. When you have a virus, your body goes down and you have more risk of everything," he said of a sickness he picked up in Doha at the start of the year and carried into the tournament. "That's probably what happened. That's the simple thing."
The fireworks that would have lit up the tennis world had Nadal won his fourth in a row came Wednesday night during the match - Australia Day celebrations forced a 10-minute interruption while the sky outside Rod Laver was lit up by a pyrotechnics show.
As the fireworks exploded, Nadal changed his shirt and briefly left the stadium. He came back a couple of minutes later and took off his right shoe and rubbed his toes and sock.
After losing the second set, the usually fidgety Nadal slumped in his chair at the changeover, completely still with his head bent.
The crowd cheered almost exclusively for Nadal - "Come on, Rafa," - they roared, while often applauding Ferrer's errors.
All, eventually, for nothing.
Nadal picked up a virus two weeks ago. He sweated profusely in several of his matches, but appeared to be over his problems, saying after his fourth-round win over Marin Cilic that he was "perfect physically."
Murray won't have to get past Nadal this year, but he will have to beat Ferrer and either defending champion Roger Federer or 2008 champion Novak Djokovic to claim his first major title.
He advanced earlier Wednesday with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3 win over unseeded Alexandr Dolgopolov, after Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva advanced to the women's semifinals.
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