Hobbled Nadal cannot overcome countryman

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal doesn’t disclose specifics of his injury after losing to No. 7 David Ferrer in straight sets.

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Top-seeded Rafael Nadal doesn’t disclose specifics of his injury after losing to No. 7 David Ferrer in straight sets.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Rafael Nadal's bid to win four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments ended.

The injured Nadal lost for the second straight year in the Australian Open quarters, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 Wednesday to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Nadal, who appeared to have tears in his eyes during a changeover while trailing 0-3 in the third set, took a medical timeout for an apparent leg injury.

"This is a difficult day for me," said Nadal, who didn't bother chasing the winner on match point. "I can't do more than what I did. (Ferrer) played at a very high level."

Last year, Nadal retired against Andy Murray because of an injured right knee that kept him out for two months. He picked up a virus two weeks ago at a tournament in Qatar. He didn't elaborate Wednesday on his injury, saying he didn't want to use it as an excuse.

"In general, I had a virus. When you have a virus, your body goes down and you have more risk of everything," said Nadal, who had won 25 consecutive Grand Slam matches. "That's the simple thing."

The crowd cheered almost exclusively for Nadal, often applauding Ferrer's errors.

"This is one big victory for me, but it's not like a victory really," Ferrer said. "He was playing with an injury … and I had luck."

On Friday, Ferrer, 28, meets Murray, who lost to Roger Federer in last year's final. Murray outlasted Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 on Wednesday.

Neither has won a major. Ferrer will be playing his second semifinal at a major, Murray his fifth.

"Of course, he has more experience than me," Ferrer said. "But … I want to enjoy this moment, no?"

Dolgopolov, 22, already had beaten 2008 runnerup Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and French Open finalist Robin Soderling. He mixed up his slice and spin with deep flat shots — sometimes at the net, sometimes at the baseline — and rarely gave Murray a look at the same ball twice in a row.

He got the better of Murray in a 36-ball rally in the third set then saved three break points before forcing a tiebreaker.

Murray spent a lot of time talking to himself.

"I was trying to get myself pumped up," said Murray, who took advantage of Dolgopolov's 77 unforced errors. "It was very slow, cool conditions out on the court. You need to make sure you're moving your feet a lot when you're out there. You need to urge yourself to play a solid, stable match; not make too many mistakes."

Women's No. 1 out

MELBOURNE, Australia — Li Na survived a match point in the second set and went on to beat the world's No. 1-ranked player, Caroline Wozniacki, 3-6, 7-5. 6-3.

The No. 9 seed is the first Chinese woman to reach the singles final of a Grand Slam. On Saturday she faces the winner of the late match between No. 2 Vera Zvonareva and No. 3 Kim Clijsters.

Wozniacki led 5-4 in the second set and served at 40-30. But Li, who lost to Serena Williams in two tiebreaker sets in last year's semifinals, won the point on her way to winning the set's final three games.

Henin retires again: Justine Henin, who won seven majors, retired for the second time, citing a lingering right elbow injury. "My elbow is too fragile and hurt," said the Belgian, 28, who lost in the third round of the Australian Open. Henin was ranked No. 1 when she retired in 2008. She returned 20 months later and reached last year's Australian Open final. She partially tore a ligament in her elbow in a fall at Wimbledon last year.

.Fast facts

Tonight on TV

11, Tennis; 3:30 a.m. (Friday), ESPN2

Hobbled Nadal cannot overcome countryman 01/26/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 12:31am]

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