Rafael Nadal’s batteries finally ran flat on Friday as the weary world No. 1 bowed out to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals of the Queen’s Club grass-court championships.
The Spanish world No. 1, preparing to defend his Wimbledon title this month, went down 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-1 when the exertions of winning a record-equaling sixth French Open crown last Sunday caught up with him.
In the other half of the draw on a rain-hit day in west London, American Andy Roddick mowed down another Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2 to set up a tasty semi-final against home favorite and second-seed Andy Murray.
Murray, still shaking off the effects of an ankle injury, was given an unexpected day off as his quarter-final opponent Marin Cilic withdrew with an ankle injury of his own.
Tsonga will face British wildcard James Ward who continued a memorable week with two wins in one day.
First Ward won a final set shootout against defending champion Sam Querrey for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory after the match had been halted the previous night by bad light.
The London cab driver’s son, ranked 216 in the world, then returned to beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 6-7 (14/16), 6-4 despite squandering seven match points in the second set tiebreak.
Nadal does not normally put up the white flag, but he played the third set against Tsonga as if he already had one foot on the plane home to Mallorca.
Nadal confirmed he would head home for some golf and fishing, before returning with “high motivation” to Wimbledon.