Del Potro downs sub-par Nadal to face Murray

April 3rd, 2009 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael Nadal Miami, April 3 (DPA) Rafael Nadal saved two of three match points with aces but couldn’t hold off hard-charging Juan Del Potro, suffering a 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(3) defeat in the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters tennis.
The Argentine will face Andy Murray, who pounced on an off-form Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-2 Thursday with the Spaniard complaining of muscle problems in his groin which required treatment.

Murray will be playing his second semi-final in as many events after losing the Indian Wells final last month to Nadal.

“I played solid, I returned well,” said the Scot fourth seed. “I took some chances on his second serve. I put the ball in tough places for him and used my head.

“It wasn’t one thing in particular, I just did a lot of things well.”

Serena Williams kept a grip on her top WTA ranking with a semi-final win over sister Venus 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. The result keeps Dinara Safina from taking over the summit position for another week.

Venus had won three of the pair’s last four meetings, including the Wimbledon final and a US Open quarter-final.

Serena broke to start the third set and fired seven aces on the way to victory in nearly two hours.

A three-hour epic handed Del Potro his first victory over Nadal after three previous defeats. The Argentine youngster had not won a single set in the series before stepping onto court in front of an overwhelmingly Latin crowd.

“I beat him with my mind and with my game,” the 20-year-old winner said. “When we played long points, I was dominating every time, so that was the key of the last set, of the tiebreak.”

Nadal could only shrug off his misfortune in Miami. “It was an amazing disaster. I wasn’t focused like usual.

“I don’t usually lose up two breaks in the third on hard court. I haven’t played well during this event. I didn’t adapt well this time. It may have been a nice match for the crowd, but it was a terrible one for me. I played bad all the time.”

Del Potro stayed with Nadal on baseline battles and broke the top seed’s confidence after crawling back from the depths in the third.

Nadal salvaged three match points in the 12th game, notching his seventh and eighth aces, but couldn’t hold serve in the ensuing tiebreak to exit on a forehand error.

On the women’s side, teenaged Victoria Azarenka reinforced her recent move into the top 10, reaching a third final this season with a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory over 2006 holder Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The Arizona-based Azarenka, 19, spent nearly three hours and needed four match points. She goes on to face Serena Williams.

“It feels great that all the work I’ve been doing is paying off,” Azarenka said. “I was just trying to play every point from the beginning to the end.”

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