Nadal crashes to Baghdatis
Cincinnati - Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were sent crashing out of the Cincinnati Masters, falling to a pair of unseeded players during a bruising day of tennis at the hardcourt tournament on Friday.
American Mardy Fish and Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus played the role of giant killers, knocking out the first and fourth seeds by outlasting them in three set marathons.
Unseeded Baghdatis posted the biggest surprise of the day, shocking world number one Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a quarter-final match that lasted two hours, 32 minutes.
Fish did likewise to Scot Murray, winning 6-7 (7/9), 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) in a match that lasted two hours, 56 minutes -- the tournament's longest. The afternoon match was played under gruelling conditions as temperatures on the court reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
"I was serving pretty big," Baghdatis said. "Basically I took my chances, and other times I played him I had chances and I didn't take them.
"Maybe I'm more mature now, and I took the chances that I had to take and won the match."
In another quarter-final match, Swiss superstar Roger Federer beat Russian Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets 6-4, 7-5 and former world number one Andy Roddick breezed past Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5.
Top seed Nadal committed 30 unforced errors in the first two sets and double-faulted on break point in the ninth game of the third set, allowing the Cypriot to serve for the match.
Baghdatis clinched his first victory in seven previous attempts against Nadal when the Spaniard fired a forehand into the net to register his 35th unforced error.
Baghdatis finished with 18 aces to Nadal's four and committed only 22 unforced errors.
Playing his eighth match in 10 days the exhausted 23-year-old Murray forced two tiebreakers, but couldn't seal the deal.
"In the third set, I wasn't really using my legs at all on my serve," said Murray.
"It was all arm. Every time there was a long point, I felt tired for two or three points afterward. When you get to the end of the match, you just try to finish as best you can."
Murray asked tournament officials after his match on Thursday if he could play the evening match on Friday but was denied. He even volunteered to play on a secondary court.
"They said that, because Fish had to play doubles, they wanted us to play early, but I'm not sure that's the way tennis works," Murray said. "I don't think matches should be scheduled around the doubles, because it's the singles that's on the TV."
Fish scoffed at Murray's request.
"I'm sure there have been times when (Murray) was playing the night match and would like to be done and go to dinner," Fish said. "It was bad luck for him today."
Murray said he was so tired he felt like pulling out of the match.
Roddick defeated Serb second seed Djokovic in an 83 minute quarter-final match.
"Novak probably didn't play his best today," Roddick said.
Roddick hammered eight aces against Djokovic who appeared in the last two Cincinnati finals, losing to Federer last year and Murray in 2008.
Former US Open winner Roddick will face Fish in Saturday's semi-finals. Fish won their most-recent match last month in Atlanta.
"He's probably my best friend on tour," Roddick said of Fish. "So I'm really happy to see him playing well. I just hope he doesn't do it tomorrow."
Fish sealed the victory and became the first unseeded player since Lleyton Hewitt in 2007 to reach Cincinnati's final four when Murray dumped a forehand into the net to end a gruelling encounter in torrid temperatures.
Murray, who triumphed last week in Toronto, received massages on both legs during several changeovers, but was able to take a 4-2 lead in the second tie-breaker.
Fish then reeled off four straight points, the last when Murray went wide with a forehand passing attempt.
The miss had Murray belting a ball out of the court in frustration.
For gorgeous gifts at gorgeous prices, click here for the ultimate Christmas gift guide from Clicks.