Murray beats injured Nadal; Cilic ousts Roddick in Oz
Melbourne, Australia (Sports Network) - Fifth-seeded Andy Murray upset defending champion Rafael Nadal and 14th-seeded Marin Cilic upended seventh- seeded Andy Roddick in Tuesday's quarterfinal action at the Australian Open.
The former U.S. Open runner-up Murray was leading the second-seeded former world No. 1 Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 3-0 when Nadal retired with a right knee injury at Rod Laver Arena. The oft-injured Nadal missed several months of action last season because of knee and abdominal issues and was unable to defend his title at Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old Nadal called for a medical timeout during the second game of the third set to get treatment on the knee, and he called it quits shortly thereafter. He and Murray, however, managed to squeeze in some terrific tennis before the abrupt ending on Day 9.
Nadal outlasted Roger Federer in last year's Melbourne finale, which gave the Spaniard his sixth career Grand Slam singles title. The powerful Spaniard, however, hasn't won a title of any kind since May of last year.
Murray took the play to Nadal on Australia Day, as the talented Brit swatted 13 aces, compared to only one for Nadal, and notched four service breaks, compared to two for the losing Spaniard, who will no longer be No. 2 in the world when the new rankings are released next week. The Dunblane, Scotland native moved on in 2 1/2 hours and became the first Brit to reach the semis here since John Lloyd in 1977.
The 22-year-old Murray is now 3-7 lifetime against Nadal, including 2-2 in Grand Slam play. The Brit lost to the Spaniard in the fourth round here in 2007.
Murray is seeking a trip to his first-ever Aussie Open final. He was the 2008 U.S. Open runner-up to the great Federer.
The second set of the Murray-Nadal match was delayed for about 10 minutes due to an Australia Day fireworks celebration.
Murray's semifinal opponent on Friday will be the capable Cilic, who knocked out the Wimbledon runner-up and former world No. 1 Roddick in five sets, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3. Cilic will now appear in his first career Grand Slam semifinal.
Roddick suffered with a right shoulder injury in the first set against Cilic, received some medical attention and was getting blown out, but rallied before the 6-foot-6 Cilic took charge in the final set and gained the big victory.
The 21-year-old Cilic played his third five-set match of this fortnight.
After winning the first two sets and dropping the third, Cilic looked to be out of gas on Day 9, but he finally reached new territory in his career. The big Croat was knocked out in the quarterfinals at last year's U.S. Open by eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro. Cilic got revenge by beating del Potro in five sets in the fourth round here on Sunday, and two days later battled Roddick in an encounter that lasted just under four hours.
Roddick, a semifinalist here last year, showed a lot of guts in rallying on Tuesday, but fell to 12-15 in his career five-set matches.
Cilic rallied from a 0-40 deficit in the first game of the final set, saving three break points before finally holding serve.
After Roddick held serve easily, Cilic used an overhead smash to take a 2-1 lead before the turning point of the final set came. Roddick hit a forehand wide to give Cilic a service break and the Croat slammed an ace for a 4-1 advantage.
Roddick had a tough hold, but Cilic continued to hit effective groundstrokes and used another ace to gain a 5-2 lead after a rough seventh game.
"I felt like in the fifth I was going to need a break or two with the way I was chunking my serve around," Roddick said. "With the way I was serving, he was going to get looks at my serve."
After Roddick held serve, Cilic used a forehand that clipped the line to push the match to the brink and then finished it when Roddick failed to land a backhand on a net approach.
Roddick was coming off a five-set win over 11th-seeded Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in which the American rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit. His lone Grand Slam title came at the 2003 U.S. Open.
The first set was a battle of attrition, but Cilic finally broke serve to go ahead 6-5. A wide forehand by the Croat sent the set to a tiebreak, but Cilic won the final three points. the last one being a solid forehand winner down the line.
After the set, Roddick's trainer rubbed down the American's shoulder, causing a delay. Roddick also wanted to get his racquet re-strung.
"I felt it a little bit the other day," Roddick said of the shoulder. "I didn't hit yesterday. It felt pretty good today in warm-up and the first couple of games, but I aggravated something. From the first set I was pretty numb the bottom two fingers. I could hit it pretty hard, but had trouble controlling it."
The delay prior to the second set didn't help the American initially, even though Roddick broke first for a 2-1 lead. Cilic broke right back, the first of his four straight game victories. He used a soft backhand to the line for a break of serve and a 4-2 lead before finally ending the set with a powerful ace.
Instead of calling it quits, Roddick continued on, gaining an early break in the third, on the way to a 3-0 lead before easily polishing off that set.
Roddick's renewed energy continued in the fourth as the American won the first five games, the last in that stretch being a drop shot to break at love. Cilic won the ensuing two games, but the Croat's return into the net pushed the match to a deciding set.
Cilic is now 2-1 lifetime against Roddick and has won their last two matchups.
The men's quarters will conclude here on Wednesday, when a top-ranked Federer meets sixth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko and third-seeded Novak Djokovic faces 10th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a rematch of the 2008 Aussie Open final, which was won by Djokovic.
Federer should have his hands full with the surging Davydenko, as the speedy Russian has won their last two meetings, this after going 0-12 against the mighty Swiss. Davydenko stunned Federer at the exclusive eight-player ATP World Tour Finals back in November, and also surprised the Swiss superstar at an Aussie Open tune-up event in Doha earlier this month.
The hot Davydenko has won his last 13 matches, including a title in Doha earlier this month.
The 28-year-old Federer is the men's all-time leader with 15 major titles and currently holds the Wimbledon and French Open crowns.
Djokovic and Tsonga will meet for a seventh time, with the Frenchman holding a surprising 4-2 lifetime advantage. Tsonga has won four of their last five encounters.
01/26 08:04:41 ET