| Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates his victory over Rafael Nadal, in London, on Friday. (Reuters) |
London: A weary Rafa Nadal had his Wimbledon warmup cut short when he was beaten 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 in the quarter finals of the Queen's Club championships by Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday.
The Spanish world No. 1, who claimed a record-equalling sixth French Open title on Sunday, looked on course for the semi-final when he took an opening set tiebreak but appeared to run out of steam as fifth seed Tsonga seized control.
A full-length diving volley helped Tsonga earn two break points at 4-4 in the second set and, when Nadal hit long, the match began to slide away in the evening sunshine.
Tsonga broke Wimbledon champion Nadals serve at the start of the deciding set and for once there was nothing left as he slumped to defeat.
Tsonga will play British wildcard James Ward, who defeated Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 6-7 (14), 6-4 for a place in Sundays final.
In another match, Andy Roddick mowed down Fernando Verdasco to set up a semi-final showdown against home favourite Andy Murray.
The all-action American, so often the nearly-man at Wimbledon, cranked up his serve, ripped his forehands and even got in some useful rain-delay practise during a 6-2, 6-2 defeat of off-key Spaniard Verdasco.
Second seed Murray had it even easier, though, as his quarter final opponent Marin Cilic withdrew with an ankle injury shortly before they were due on court.
Heavy rain meant the organisers had to rip-up the schedule but there was time for Ward to floor another big name, following up his second round win over Swiss fourth seed Stanislas Wawrinka to complete another impressive victory over defending champion Sam Querrey.
London cabbies son Ward, the world No. 216, has recently recruited an Argentine cage fighter in an attempt to boost his career and he showed plenty of killer instinct to beat the American 13th seed 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The match had been poised at one set all overnight and the 24-year-old Ward, weather permitting, was due to return later for a quarter final against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Third seed Roddick, bidding for a record fifth title at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up event that has a roll of honour featuring some of the greats of tennis, loves the all-too-brief grass court season.
After a first-round bye he then came through a high-quality battle with Feliciano Lopez, dispatched big-serving South African Kevin Anderson with ease and on Friday proved a class above Verdasco whose trusty forehand misfired repeatedly.
Thats my first rain delay out of the way, a perspiring Roddick said told a BBC courtside interviewer who barely mentioned his match, but quizzed him on how he had occupied himself in the lengthy break and his current musical tastes.
I played (video game) Angry Birds, Roddick fired back to laughs from the crowd before explaining that he had become fascinated with cult British group The Wurzels and their comic hit Combine Harvester.
The American former world number one can now look forward to the more serious business of a meeting with Murray, hoping for a repeat of their previous meeting when he rocked the Scot in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2009 before losing to Roger Federer for the third time in the final.