The run for the “Rafa Slam” ended on Wednesday in Melbourne when an injured world No. 1 Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets to Spanish compatriot and friend David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
In the semis Ferrer will meet Andy Murray, who beat Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3.
“I played very consistently all the three sets, I was focused just in my game,” said Ferrer, who remains a perfect 9-0 in 2011. “I’m very happy with my game. I’m very confident. So I want to enjoy this moment.
“I will try to do my best [against Murray], but I need to play very consistently, [stay] very focused all the match, because Andy’s a top player.”
Nadal said it will be a tough road for his Davis Cup teammate.
“[David] is playing fantastic. But I think he’s not the favorite. But if he keep playing like this, hopefully he can have a good chance to be in the final or win the tournament. [He] is a fantastic person [and] a close friend of mine. So I wish him all the best.”
In the first set Nadal called for the trainer and left the court for five minutes, returning with strapping applied to his left thigh, and wincing when shifting his weight to the leg.
“For respect to the winner and to a friend, I prefer to talk about the match,” Nadal told reporters after the match. “I think he played at a very high level. I just congratulate him and wish him all the best for the semifinal…It is obvious that I didn’t feel at my best. I had a problem during the match, the very beginning. After that, the match was almost over. Today, I really [couldn’t] do more than what I did. He played at a very high level, and I wasn’t able to compete against him tonight.”
Nadal was trying to become the first player to win four straight Slams since Rod Laver in 1969.
Murray looked ready for a straight-set run until the fighting Dolgopolov would not go away in the third-set tiebreak.
“I thought I dealt with his game well,” Murray said. “It was just difficult to get into a rhythm. Did quite a lot of running. He won a lot of free points off his first serve. It was a tough match. I thought I dealt with it pretty well. With his game style, he’s going to give a lot of guys problems.”
Murray won the first 14 points of the fourth set to take a 4-0 lead and command of the match.
“It was a really good match,” Dolgopolov said. “Andy played really well. I was trying to keep up. He was just more solid for me today…I still need to practice and get better to beat these kind of players more.”
In women’s action Wednesday, both Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters fought off tough challenges to move into the semifinals.
The world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva defeated Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-4. In the second set Kvitova stormed back from 0-3 to 4-3 before Zvonareva quelled the uprising.
“At 6-2, 3-0 I was trying to keep playing the same way I was playing, but she really lifted her game,” Zvonareva said. “She’s a very good player. She took that opportunity, that little chance I gave her, and used it to get back into the match. I’m happy with the way I handled the situation during those moments though.”
It is the third straight Slam final for Zvonareva.
Clijsters recorded a 6-3, 7-6(4) win over No. 12 seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
“I felt a little bit tired and heavy out there today, but I fought well and stayed really focused, and tried not to lose too much energy on getting frustrated and things like that,” Clijsters said. “Everything has to be better. The serving, the returning, the unforced errors… everything. But I’m in the semifinals and I don’t feel I’ve played my best tennis, so that’s a good thing.”
Radwanska was playing her first tournament in three months after injury.
Thursday in Melbourne will feature the women’s semifinals in (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (9) Na Li, and (3) Kim Clijsters vs. (2) Vera Zvonareva, and a men’s semifinal in (3) Novak Djokovic vs. (2) Roger Federer.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Aussie immigration officials turned down Russian-born Arina Rodionova’s bid to become an Australian citizen after approving the citizenship of her sister Anastasia Rodionova. They are the only sister pair at this year’s Aussie Open. That’s pretty picky considering the weak state of Aussie tennis, you guys should be building a Statue of Liberty with a tennis racquet in her hand that says “Tennis immigrants, come on in!”..So Caroline Wozniacki learned a lesson about not making up stories of getting attacked by kangaroos to the Australian media?…The new shots on the web of Caroline Wozniacki sunbathing topless — As Borat would say, ‘Thatsa nize!’…Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli will be out for six weeks after tearing a calf muscle during her second-round match in Melbourne…French player Aravane Rezai has pulled out of the Fed Cup match against Russia and the WTA Open GDF Suez tournament after media reports surfaced that the WTA had banned an undisclosed member of her family from attending tournaments over a “safety issue.”…Canadian Milos Raonic has received a wildcard into San Jose?…Australian Open upgrade plans include 21 extra courts, a facelift for the main Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena, a raised public plaza and a new entrance to the venue in Melbourne at a tag of approximately $361 million(U.S.)…Francesca Schiavone will return to Australia in two weeks, selected Tuesday to lead Italy’s team against Australia in the first round of the Fed Cup on Feb. 5-6. Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci have won the past two Fed Cups for Italy. Australia will be a formidable first-round opponent with Samantha Stosur, Jarmila Groth, Anastasia Rodionova and Rennae Stubbs named to its team…From the Daily Mail: “Time was when John McEnroe used to refer to the Australian Open as a ‘crap shoot’, because he felt its early date in the season made it too hard for the best players to get properly into form and show their best.” — We’re sure it was more of a crap shoot back then, especially for John and his ‘rigorous’ off-season training of booze, drugs and horse tranquilizers (reportedly), as detailed in tell-alls over the years. If he trained back then like he does now for the senior tour, his name would be up there with the all-time greats, probably THE all-time great. And remove the Tatum factor…Also from the Daily Mail: “Despite the absence of Serena Williams, and the early demise of her sister Venus and Justine Henin in this tournament, there is rather more intrigue in women’s tennis this year.” — Uhhhhh, could there be LESS intrigue than last year, when everyone was injured?…Na Li beat Caroline Wozniacki in both their meetings last year…Caroline Wozniacki got a little chaffed when a journalist asked her why the world No. 1 was letting a player like Francesca Schiavone push her around the court and dictate play, accusing her of not being aggressive enough: “I just want to know who won the match. I think I did that, so I think there is no question I’m playing to win. If the opponent makes a hundred winners, it’s too good. But if I still win the match, that’s the most important thing in the end.”…No word from Francesca Schiavone on what she thinks of MTV’s Jersey Shore filming it’s upcoming season in Italy. A representative from UNICO, the Italian-American interest group that has called for a boycott of the show, said of the group of skanks and meatheads headed for the old country: “People used to go to the circus to see the freak show — that is what this will be. It will not only hurt Italians but all Americans…their outrageous, reprehensible behavior will make us look like buffoons and bimbos.” — Nah, they will take a care of that…Can we get Mary Carillo’s objective no-nonsense voice back in the ESPN booth please? Better than Chris Fowler blathering on and on and on and on about tennis issues, trying to establish some traction as a tennis expert?…Best Headline of the Day from KBXT TV: “Krajicek faces Venus in ATP Challenger Tournament in Hawaii” — that’s U.S. collegiate Austin Krajicek vs. New Zealand’s Michael Venus.
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