AEGON CHAMPIONSHIPS 2011
Tsonga Ends Nadal's Winning Run; Ward's Dream Run Continues
by ATP Staff|
World No. 19 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came from behind to end Rafael Nadal’s eight-match unbeaten run with a 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-1 victory in the quarter-finals of the AEGON Championships on Friday evening at The Queen’s Club.
Just two points into their seventh meeting, the players were forced off court due to a brief rain shower. On their return, Nadal claimed the first set on a tie-break after squandering a 0/40 opportunity on Tsonga’s serve in the 11th game.
Breaks were exchanged at the beginning of the second set before Tsonga broke decisively in the ninth game to level the match. With Nadal clearly tiring, the Frenchman raced away with the third set, breaking twice to clinch victory in just over two hours. It was just his second win over Nadal, and his first since beating the Spaniard in the 2008 Australian Open semi-finals.
World No. 1 Nadal arrived in London on Monday evening straight from winning his sixth Roland Garros crown on Sunday (d. Federer). The Mallorcan was bidding to regain the title he won at The Queen’s Club in 2008.
"I didn't play badly at the beginning," reflected Nadal. "He was serving really well. [In the] second set I had my chances, in my opinion. Probably after losing [the] second set mentally I lost my concentration. First game [of the third set] mentally [I was] a little bit tired. [I have played] a lot of matches in a row. And after that with the break in the third [set] it was a mountain for me to come back into the match.”
Tsonga is through to his third ATP World Tour semi-final of the season after reaching the final in Rotterdam (l. to Soderling) and the last four in Doha (l. to Federer) in the first two months of the year.
The 24 year old had held his nerve to finish off a third-round victory over defending champion Sam Querrey earlier in the day, but looked to have blown his opportunity against Mannarino when he squandered seven match points in the second set tie-break. He had also served for the match at 5-4.
However, the Brit fought back from a break down in the third set and saved two break points in the ninth game before breaking Mannarino decisively in the following game to prevail in two hours and seven minutes.
It is the first time since Rotterdam in 1999 that two British players have reached the semi-finals at the same ATP World Tour event; on that occasion Greg Rusedski lost in the semis and Tim Henman went on to finish runner-up to his victor, Yevgeny Kafelnikov.