MADRID (Reuters) - Unseeded Argentine David Nalbandian inflicted a shock 6-1 6-2 defeat on world number two Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Masters on Friday to earn a semi-final showdown with young Serb Novak Djokovic.
An out-of-sorts Nadal looked to be suffering the after-effects of Thursday night’s gruelling victory over Andy Murray as he surrendered his serve on five occasions, lost nine games in a row and made a host of unforced errors.
It was the Spaniard’s heaviest defeat since he lost to Julien Benneteau in Lyon in Oct. 2004 when he also won only three games, and the second time in a row he has fallen in the quarters in Madrid.
For Nalbandian, runner-up here in 2004, the victory put him in the semis for the first time this year and came as a welcome boost at the end of a disappointing season in which he has dropped out of the top 10 to 25th in the world.
“Everything went right for me today,” the Argentine told reporters. “I took advantage of all Rafa’s errors and he never felt comfortable but I felt I played really well.”
Unlike Murray, who had five break points early in his match against Nadal, the Argentine took his chances and broke the Spaniard in the third game.
Nalbandian then broke twice more to take the set 6-1 and reeled off nine games without reply to grab a 3-0 lead in the second.
Nadal, winner here in 2005, struggled to control his ground shots and Nalbandian stretched the Mallorcan across the court and kept the rallies going to tire out his opponent.
A frustrated Nadal slammed an easy forehand into the net to surrender his serve once again in the second game and although he tried to pump himself up with the crowd’s support, he was unable to break the Argentine’s concentration.
Earlier, world number three Djokovic powered his way to a 7-6 6-2 win over unseeded Croat Mario Ancic.
The 20-year-old Serb became the first player to take a set off Ancic this week before twice breaking serve in the second.
“The second set was something else, it was really good and I’m starting to feel better and better,” said Djokovic.
“Nalbandian will have a lot of confidence. We all know what a good player he was and still is so it’s going to be very tough for me but I always believe in myself.”
Holder and world number one Roger Federer takes on Spanish wild card Feliciano Lopez and last year’s losing finalist Fernando Gonzalez meets Nicolas Kiefer in the other quarter-finals.
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