Nadal makes it to Queen’s semi-finals

London, June 13:

French Open champion Rafael Nadal reached the Queen’s semi-finals for the first time after out-lasting Ivo Karlovic in a gruelling three-set clash on Friday.

Nadal, the top seed, had never gone beyond the last eight here in his two previous visits to the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event but he now faces reigning champion Andy Roddick for a place in the final.

The Spaniard was pushed all the way by Karlovic, who showed why his serve is regarded by many as the best in the world, before finally winning 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4).

Nadal couldn’t break the Croat, a Queen’s runner-up three years ago, during two hours and twenty minutes of attritional action, but he managed to win a point on his opponent’s serve in each of the final two tie-breaks and that was enough to edge through.

This was grass-court tennis of the most brutal kind and should serve as ideal preparation for Nadal’s bid to overthrow Roger Federer at Wimbledon. After surviving this kind of barrage, even Federer’s immense talent will seem managable.

Nadal had a break point in the seventh game but Karlovic was able to call on power serve to subdue the Spaniard. That was as close as Nadal got to making an impact on the Karlovic serve for the rest of the set.

Nadal constantly wrong-footed Karlovic by putting vicious top-spin on his ground-strokes, but the Croat simply responded by firing down yet more unreturnable serves. The second set was a carbon copy of the first with neither player able to find a way to break serve. Again a tie-break was the only way to seperate them.

The final set tie-break was tailor-made for Nadal to show his ice-cool temperament. He dug in and unleashed to secured a mini-break and and held serve to reach the last four.