Tsonga beats Nadal at Queen's, Roddick roars on
London: Rafa Nadal's batteries finally ran flat on Friday as the weary world number one bowed out to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals of the Queen's Club grasscourt championships.
The Spanish world number one, preparing to defend his Wimbledon title this month, went down 6-7 6-4 6-1 when the exertions of winning a record-equalling sixth French Open crown on Sunday caught up with him.
In the other half of the draw on a rain-hit day in west London, American Andy Roddick mowed down another Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-2 to set up a tasty semi-final against home favourite and second seed Andy Murray.
Murray, still shaking off the effects of an ankle injury, was given an unexpected day off as his quarter-final opponent Marin Cilic withdrew with an ankle injury of his own shortly before they were due on court.
Tsonga will face British wildcard James Ward who continued a memorable week with two wins in one day.
First the 24-year-old won a final set shootout against defending champion Sam Querrey for a 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory after the match had been halted the previous night by bad light.
The London cab driver's son, ranked 216 in the world, then returned to beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-2 6-7 6-4 despite squandering seven match points in the second set tiebreak.
With his rugged-looking fitness trainer Diego Visotzky, an Argentine cage fighter watching on from the stands, it was probably just as well Ward walked off a winner to put two British players in the semi-finals here for the first time in the professional era.
Nadal does not normally put up the white flag but he played the third set against Tsonga as if already had one foot on the plane home to Mallorca.
Minutes after walking off court he confirmed he would head home for some golf and fishing before returning with "high motivation" to Wimbledon.
"Probably after losing the second set mentally I lost my concentration," the 25-year-old said.
"The negative thing is I lost; the positive thing is I have few days off and can stop a little bit mentally. I can be a little bit more relaxed, because every day I play with pressure.
"That's what happened for me the last four months every day."
Nadal looked on course for the semi-final when he took an opening set tiebreak against the sometimes erratic Tsonga but he had no answer when the fifth seed raised his game and began belting winners to all corners.
A full-length diving volley helped Tsonga earn two break points at 4-4 in the second set and when Nadal hit long the match quickly slid away in the evening sunshine.
Roddick missed the French Open with a shoulder injury but since arriving in London he has looked razor sharp.
The all-action American, so often the nearly man at Wimbledon, cranked up his serve, ripped forehands and even got in some useful "rain delay" practice during a thrashing of the off-key Verdasco.
"That's my first rain delay out of the way," a perspiring Roddick told a TV news channel interviewer who barely mentioned his match, but quizzed him on how he had occupied himself in the lengthy break and his current musical tastes.
"I played (video game) Angry Birds," Roddick fired back to laughs from the crowd before explaining that he had also been watching cult British group The Wurzels and their hit Combine Harvester on his laptop.
The American former world number one can now look forward to the more serious business of a meeting with Murray, the player he beat in the 2009 Wimbledon semi-finals before losing to Roger Federer in the final for a third time.
"I mean, it's going to be tough," the 28-year-old told reporters. "I don't think there's going to be a lot of surprises either way. We're probably in the two hands' worth of guys that really feel comfortable on this surface."