The world’ top two tennis players, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, both suffered shock defeats Friday, while Rafael Nadal stormed back to beat longtime rival Roger Federer at the Cincinnati Masters.
Nadal booked a spot in the semi-finals by rallying past Federer, with the Swiss player saving four match points in a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 loss.
The pair have met a total of 31 times, with Nadal winning 21 of those. Federer suffered only his second loss in the last five editions in Cincinnati. “Credit to him for hanging in and getting back some tough shots,” said five-time champion Federer, who will fall to seventh in the world as a result of his defeat.
World No 1 Djokovic fell 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 7-5 to unseeded John Isner as the Serb’s attempt to set another tennis record ended in defeat. Had Djokovic beaten the American he would have kept alive a bid to become the first man to win all nine Masters 1000 titles in his career. Murray was eliminated 6-3, 6-4 by Tomas Berdych, leaving the Scot to head for New York and his US Open title defence, beginning August 26, with plenty to work on. Isner set up a semi clash with 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro, who beat qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Del Potro said he won despite dealing with pain in his left wrist.
The women’s quarter-final matches were dominated by World No 1 Serena Williams, who raced through a 16-minute opening set en route to an easy 6-0, 6-4 win against Romanian Simona Halep. Williams next plays holder Li Na, after the Chinese advanced a day earlier when Agnieszka Radwanska withdrew to attend the funeral of her grandfather in Poland.
Former World No 1 Jelena Jankovic beat Italy’s Roberta Vinci 6-0, 6-4 to reach a fifth semi-final this season. She will next play second seed Victoria Azarenka, who eliminated Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) in a night match.
The win was only the third in nine meetings for Azarenka against Wozniacki.