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Nadal reaches Queen's semi-finals

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Nadal triumphed after three tie-breaks

Top seed Rafael Nadal reached the semi-finals of the Artois Championships for the first time with a hard-fought win over big-serving Ivo Karlovic.

Neither player could break serve before Nadal took a final set tie-break to win 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4).

He will go on to face defending champion Andy Roddick, who had a walkover after Andy Murray withdrew.

Second seed Novak Djokovic was superb in beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-2 6-2 and next faces David Nalbandian.

The Argentine came through a high-quality contest against Richard Gasquet 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-3) to see all top four seeds reach the semis for the first time since 1990.

Nadal did well to see off 6ft 10in Karlovic, who fired down 35 aces and faced just two break points in three sets.

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Indeed, Nadal - who has lost in the quarter-finals for the last two years - was even more dominant on serve and did not face a single break point in the entire match.

"It was an amazing match, especially on fast surfaces Karlovic is very, very tough," the Spaniard told BBC Sport.

"Today I think I played very well, especially in the second and third set. I'm very happy to be in my first semi-final at Queen's.

"This is my best result before Wimbledon, my first semi-final and this tournament is very, very important to me.

"Roddick is another big, big server so I will go on court and try my best."

Speaking in a news conference later, Nadal joked: "It was a tough win today, no? Tough because tonight I could have had Friday night in Mallorca.

"I need three days off. Four would be amazing! I've spent nine days in the last four months at home. I need to be with friends, family, forget the tennis for a few days. I need to play some golf."

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Djokovic only needed two sets to see off Hewitt

Djokovic had been widely expected to face a serious examination from four-time champion Hewitt but the Serb was totally dominant, winning in one hour 12 minutes.

"It felt good," Djokovic told BBC Sport.

"I didn't play so well and wasn't happy with my first two matches but making the transition from clay to grass takes time and I feel better and better.

"The preparations are great, I'm really happy I came here. I'm getting used to the conditions, the surface, the balls, and hopefully I can continue the run at Wimbledon."

Hewitt admitted: "I got off to a slow start and didn't take it to him probably as much as I could have early in the first set. I gave him too many looks at second serves.

"He's as good a ball striker as there is around right at the moment and when you let him dictate, he's a very good player."

Jamie Murray advanced to the semi-finals of the men's doubles when he and Max Mirnyi beat American pair Eric Butorac - Murray's former partner - and Rajeev Ram 7-6 4-6 10-3.


see also
Murray v Gulbis as it happened
12 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Wimbledon build-up photos
13 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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