Top-seeded Rafael Nadal was hustled out of the Qatar Open in the semi-finals yesterday, joining second-seeded Roger Federer at the Doha exit door after the Swiss star pulled out with a back injury.
French Open champion Nadal lost 6-3, 6-4 to Gael Monfils, the World No 16 from France. The result guaranteed a French winner of the Qatar Open for the first time since Nicolas Escude eight years ago, for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also reached the final when Federer's hopes were scuppered by a bad back.
Disappointed: Rafael Nadal during yesterday's loss to Gael Monfils.
Federer's decision to pull out before a ball was hit was only the second time in his career that he had been forced into such a decision. For Monfils, it was only the second time in 10 attempts that he had got the better of Nadal.
Curiously the other occasion was on this same court three years ago before Nadal went on to win the Australian Open.
This time the quality of Monfils' play was even higher and he suggested that, at the age of 25, he may still have the time and the mentality to make a challenge to the leaders.
"I like this stadium and atmosphere -- I play great tennis here," he said of an arena with an intimate, highly charged ambience at night. "I think I served well and I was very fast around the court," added Monfils, who had served 19 first serves into court in a row at one stage in the second set.