Friday, 19 August 2011

Rafael Nadal - Battered by Fish :(

MASON, Ohio (AP) Nearly five hours of tennis in one day caught up with Rafael Nadal, who couldn't keep up with a much fresher Mardy Fish and lost 6-3, 6-4 at the Western & Southern Open on Friday.

Fish's first career win over the second-ranked Nadal sent him into the tournament's semifinals for the second straight year. The American lost to Roger Federer in the title match last year.
Fourth-seeded Andy Murray also reached the semifinals. In the wide-open women's bracket, Maria Sharapova advanced in straight sets.

Nadal's tired legs and burned fingertips had something to do with Fish's breakthrough win.
A day earlier, the 25-year-old Spaniard needed three tiebreakers and 3 hours, 38 minutes to beat Fernando Verdasco. That was followed by a 70-minute doubles match. Plus, his right hand was bothering him - he burned the tips of his index and middle fingers on a hot plate at a restaurant before the tournament began, and had to play with them heavily bandaged.

Fish knew everything was on his side this time in the lopsided rivalry - he'd never come close to beating Nadal in their six previous matches, winning a total of two sets. He kept the ball in play, moved Nadal around the court and waited for his running-on-fumes opponent to make a mistake.

After only a few games on a sunny, 82-degree afternoon, Nadal's green shirt was soaked with sweat. Usually demonstrative on court, Nadal was subdued for most of the match, focused on making it through. He wrapped a towel stuffed with ice around his neck during changeovers and rested it on his overtaxed legs.

Midway through the second set, Nadal had a trainer re-tape his left foot.
Fish is the highest-ranked American on the tour at No. 7. He's the only one who hasn't lost his serve, overcoming four break points against Nadal. He raised both arms when his forehand passing shot from the baseline finished it off.

Fish will play Murray, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over 10th-seeded Gilles Simon of France. Murray, the 2008 champion, has beaten Simon in seven consecutive matches.

Courtesy: NYPost

Mardy Fish claimed his first career victory over Rafael Nadal on Friday, beating the weary Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the ATP's Cincinnati Masters.

Nadal, the world number two and second seed, had battled through three tiebreakers over three and a half hours to beat Fernando Verdasco.

He was also still playing with two burned fingertips of his left hand heavily taped.

Fish made the most of his opportunity, saving all four break points he faced as he avenged a quarter-final loss to Nadal at Wimbledon.

Fish, who has risen to seventh in the world, said a successful summer season that has included a title in Atlanta and finals appearances at Los Angeles and Montreal had him feeling more confident against Nadal this time.

"It's so different," said Fish, who finished off the match by zinging a forehand cross court shot past Nadal. "I feel like I should win, not that I hope to win."

The American seventh seed faces another top tier opponent in the semi-finals in world number four Andy Murray, who cruised past France's Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-3.

Courtesy: Yahoo

Rafael Nadal's poor play finally caught up with him as he suffered defeat to the in-form American Mardy Fish at the Western & Southern Open.

After surviving a three-set drama against Fernando Verdasco on Thursday, Nadal - who was hampered by burns to his right hand after an accident at a Japanese restaurant - finally found he could no longer win despite playing a long way from his best - as Fish bossed him around the court on the way to a 6-3 6-4 victory.

It was the first win for the seventh seeded American against Nadal, after six defeats in previous meetings. Fish admitted he felt comfortable on court in Cincinnati and was able to take advantage of Nadal's difficulties.

"This is one of my favourite events. I've had great memories here. He's kicked my butt six times so to get one over him was great," Fish said afterwards. "I'm so much more confident right now, and if I was to choose any surface and any court [to play on] right now it might be this one. I'm just so comfortable here."

Both players started strongly - although there was an early hint that Nadal was not his usual self as he stopped a rally to challenge a call, incorrectly as it transpired, in the very first game. As the set went on Nadal's usually deadly forehand let him down - spraying long and wide on multiple occasions as Fish found the break he needed to move ahead.

In the second set Fish did not take long to take his opponent's serve, with Nadal venting an uncharacteristic amount of anger at the umpires and himself for some questionable calls and poor shot selection. Fish, however, was unfazed - surviving one break point opportunity for his opponent with the score at 4-3, before eventually serving out the match to love two games later.

Fish will now play Andy Murray in the semi-finals.

"I think I can beat anyone right now," he said. "I played Novak [Djokovic] very well last week in the final. Andy's one of the best players in the world, but I'm as confident as I've ever been."

Nadal, meanwhile, will wonder what he needs to rediscover before the US Open begins in just over a week.


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