Nadal Survives, Djokovic, Roddick Out, Murray at Risk

Aegon Championships 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, June 11th, 2010
Andy Roddick of US reacts during his semi final match

Andy Roddick of US reacts during his semi final match

The lesson to be learned on Thursday was that if you have the courage, anything is possible on the quick courts that mark the start of the grass court season. Heavily favored big guns and high seeds fell like bowling pins at London’s Queen’s Club. 14th seed and world number 63, Dudi Sela of Israel, started a chain reaction of upsets that stunned the crowd and ruined American Andy Roddick’s party with a remarkably well played 6-4, 7-6 (8).

In the rarest of occurrences, the 4th seeded Roddick was out-served and out-aced by the tenacious Israeli. Dudi had 14 aces to Roddick’s 10. After the match, Roddick paid homage to the winner. “He played great. Credit to him. I think he had a specific game plan and I thought he executed it very well and never dug himself a hole on any service game.”

Djokovic continued his mystifying habit of getting out of the gate slowly. This time the dangerous trend came back to haunt the 2nd seed. World number 74, Belgian’s 29-year old Xavier Malisse ko’d the Serb 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. The win was just Malisse’s sixth of the 2010 season. Djokovic has a 26-9 record.

Malisse turned Djokovic away from breaks on four of five opportunities. In the meantime, the Belgian converted four of his nine break opportunities. Malisse seemed the more motivated player. He will next face tough American Sam Querrey, who fired 12 aces at Spain’s Marcel Granoliers, in a tight 6-4, 7-6(5) 70 minute match. In the end, the seventh seeded Querrey’s serve was too much for the defenseless Spaniard.

Roddick conqueror Dudi will next entertain German Rainer Schuetter, who advanced to the quarterfinals when France’s Richard Gasquet was forced to withdraw with a back in jury.

After the Djokovic upset, Rafa Nada nearly became the biggest upset of the day. The top seed held on in an unexpected 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4 three-hour fifty-three minute marathon against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin. The favorite gained a key break in the eight game of the third set to go up 5-3 but Isotmin was not ready to stop. The 16 seed bravely broke back to get back on serve at 4-5.

Winner Poker

The underdog then fought off two match points before finally succumbing on his third chance. Nadal will meet countryman Feliciano Lopez in the quarters. Lopez downed Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-2, 6-4.

In yet another upset, Michael Llorda turned the table on 5th seeded Croatian Marin Cilic 7-6(2), 6-2 in 62 minutes. Cilic has 30 wins this season and two ATP titles but has been cool in his last two outings. He is the youngest player in the tour’s top ten players.

The home crowd anxiously waited to see third seed Andy Murray take on American Mardy Fish. The tall American is a dangerous grass opponent and crafted his upset bid by serving out the first set at 6-4. Murray answered with a near flawless second set 6-1 win to square the match. At 3-3 in the third, the match was suspended due to darkness. Llorda will get an extra day’s rest to prepare for the winner, but it will be a sleepless night in London town with the local hero at risk.


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