Wed, Jan 27, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Defending champion Nadal limps out

SEEKING REVENGEAndy Murray, who is hoping to end a seven-decade British drought at the majors, now has a chance to avenge his defeat by Marin Cilic at the US Open

AP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Marin Cilic serves to Andy Roddick during their quarter-final match at the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

Defending champion Rafael Nadal retired from his quarter-final against Andy Murray with an injured knee, then predicted the Scottish player would end his Grand Slam title drought by winning the Australian Open.

“For Andy, I think he deserves to win his first Grand Slam. And I think he’s going to do it,” Nadal said less than an hour after a knee injury forced him to concede yesterday’s match while he was trailing 6-3, 7-6 (2), 3-0.

“There’s a very good chance for him. First thing, he’s playing very well,” Nadal said. “Second thing, he’s already in the semi-finals. He’s only two matches away.”

Andy Roddick also went out of the tournament yesterday, struggling with a shoulder injury before going down in five sets to Marin Cilic.

Nadal said he didn’t want to risk further damage by playing on and potentially having to spend long periods off the tour with knee tendinitis like he did last year.

“Similar thing that I had last year,” Nadal said of the pain. “It was impossible to win the match.”

Murray will play Cilic in the semis, who beat No. 7 seed Roddick 7-6 (4), 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3 earlier.

“I didn’t know when he hurt his knee, when he started feeling it, but from my side, I played very well,” said Murray, who is hoping to end a seven-decade British drought at the majors. “I deserved to be up when the match stopped.”

The 22-year-old Scot can hardly wait to play against Cilic.

“I lost to him at the US Open in straight sets, so I’m looking for a little revenge,” Murray said. “If I play like I did tonight I have got a good chance. Obviously nerves are going to be there with an opportunity to make a final of a Slam.”

Roddick struggled through a shoulder injury that impaired his movement, but he expects no long-term damage.

Nadal received on-court treatment from a trainer for a right knee ailment after losing the second set.

Three games later, the Spaniard decided he couldn’t continue.

“I had to go for my shots, play big tennis. And when the big points come you don’t want to play long points against Rafa,” said Murray, whose only Grand Slam final appearance ended in a loss to Roger Federer at the 2008 US Open.

Roddick’s only major has been the 2003 US Open, the last time an American man won a Grand Slam singles title, marking the country’s longest drought in men’s majors.

Despite playing strongly in the third and fourth sets to level the match, Roddick fell apart in the final set, allowing No. 14 seed Cilic to break twice and send the last American man out of the singles draw at Melbourne Park.

Roddick said he didn’t practice on Monday after feeling a twinge in his shoulder during Sunday’s fourth-round win over Fernando Gonzalez.

“The trainer said it was stemming from the neck down,” Roddick said. “By the end of the first set, I was pretty numb in the bottom two fingers. I could still hit it pretty hard; I was just having trouble controlling it.”

Roddick, who took two months off at the end of last year due to a knee injury, was positive after his loss.

He was told by the ATP trainer that he wouldn’t risk any serious damage by continuing playing yesterday.

“All signs at this point are good,” Roddick said.

“Whether it was a nerve that was compressed or something, I don’t know, cutting off something. But they don’t think it’s going to be anything too serious long-term. I’m sure we’ll take the proper precautions and check it out,” he said.

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