Rafael Nadal lost in the Gerry Weber Open quarter-finals, while five-times champion Roger Federer overcame 25 aces from Milos Raonic to progress on Friday.
Defending champion Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany ended Nadal’s 13-match winning streak with a 6-3, 6-4 win, four days after the Spaniard won a record seventh French Open title.
“It’s not the time to look for excuses,” Nadal said. “He played better than me.”
For the third time in succession, Federer rallied from a set down to defeat Raonic 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), despite the Canadian winning 89 percent of his first-serve points.
“I’ve always lost the first set against him and like in Madrid [last month] I only won in a third-set tiebreak,” Federer said.
Raonic fired 13 aces in the first set, and Federer responded by breaking him in the first game of the second set and winning the tiebreak in the decider.
“Maybe it was a factor today, the knowledge of having done it before in Madrid. But you have to pay Milos a huge compliment. If he continues like that, then someday he’ll hit one at 300kph,” Federer said.
He got the mini-break in the deciding tiebreaker when Raonic dropped concentration and netted a simple return to leave it 3-2, and the Swiss wrapped up an engaging battle in just under two hours.
Federer faces Mikhail Youzhny in the semi-finals after the Russian beat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
After beating Raonic at Indian Wells in March and in Madrid, Federer went on to win both titles. The 16-times Grand Slam champion is the favorite to claim a record sixth title at Halle after Nadal’s exit.
“Today, from the beginning was tough for me,” Nadal said.
Kohlschreiber aced Nadal eight times. He broke Nadal in the second game and piled the pressure on by pulling ahead 3-0.
The German missed the opportunity to break the 11-time Grand Slam champ again in the first game of the second, and defended three break points to hold his serve three games later. Kohlschreiber broke Nadal again in the seventh game and quickly led 5-3.
“It was a world-class day for me,” the 34th-ranked Kohlschreiber said. “In principle I did nothing wrong.”
It was his first win over Nadal in nine attempts. Friday’s match was their first meeting on grass.
“It’s more a tennis problem than a mental problem,” Nadal said. “The transition is difficult. It depends how much time you have. Playing on grass can sometimes be a bit of a lottery.”
Kohlschreiber will meet compatriot and wild card Tommy Haas, the oldest player in the singles draw at 34, who delighted the home fans by defeating the third-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in just over two hours.
AP, BIRMINGHAM, England
Zheng Jie of China came four times within two points of reaching the Aegon Classic semi-finals, without being able to finish it off on Friday.
Instead, Zheng was left frustratingly close to only her second semi of the year before play was suspended with her leading 6-3, 5-6 against Roberta Vinci from Italy.
The only match to be completed was unfinished on Thursday, with Misaki Doi of Japan advancing from the overnight score of 2-2 to a 7-5, 6-4 win against Stephanie Foretz Gacon of France and reaching her first WTA quarter-finals.
When Zheng was ahead 6-3, 5-3, she seemed about to score a win over her highest-ranked opponent in five months, but rain intervened three times as the match reached a crazy, stop-go climax.