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Posted at 5:42 AM ET, 01/26/2011

Rafael Nadal's bid for fourth Grand Slam win ends in Australian Open

By Cindy Boren


Rafael Nadal is in apparent pain as he stretches his left leg. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated at 6:19 and 10:26 a.m.

There'll be no Rafa Slam for Rafael Nadal. David Ferrer ended Nadal's pursuit of his fourth consecutive Grand Slam title today with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory in an Australian Open quarterfinal.

Despite taking an injury timeout and receiving treatment three games into the match, Nadal could not overcome a left hamstring injury and frequently grimaced and winced throughout the straight-sets loss. Nadal afterward was reluctant to discuss the injury because Ferrer is a fellow Spaniard and Davis Cup teammate.

"I can say nothing about the injury. Seriously, I would prefer that I don't talk a lot about the injury. In respect to the winner and to a friend, I prefer to talk about the match. I think he played at a very high level," Nadal said. "I congratulate him and wish him all the best for the semifinal. I think he's having a fantastic tournament.

"If he keeps playing like this, he is going to have a good chance."

It didn't help Nadal that the match was interrupted for Australia Day fireworks.

"It's not easy because Rafa is a gentleman and he was playing with [an] injury and we are friendly," Ferrer said. "I got lucky because he was injured in the first set, but I did my game and I fight a lot...his injury, sometimes it's not easy."

Nadal was attempting to become the first man since 1969 to win four consecutive Grand Slam titles -- called the Rafa Slam because the other three were won in 2010. The last man to win the Grand Slam was Rod Laver.

A year ago today, injury forced Nadal out of the Australian Open in his semifinal match against Andy Murray. He was off the tennis tour until March recovering from a right knee injury, then won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Updated at 6:09 a.m.

Struggling with what appears to be a hamstring injury, Rafael Nadal dropped the first two sets of his Australian Open quarterfinal match with David Ferrer.

Ferrer, the tournament's seventh seed, won the first two sets, 6-4, 6-2 and leads Nadal 5-2 in the third.

By Cindy Boren  | January 26, 2011; 5:42 AM ET
Categories:  Tennis  
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Rafa simply plays too much and too hard ...

Posted by: slipuvalad | January 26, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

@ slipuvalad,

I agree totally. Nadal's style of play is way to physical. He's going to have to alter his it if he wants his body to hold up.

That's why the great Roger Federer will probably play another 3 years. His (Federer) style is the "traditional" tennis player.

Posted by: carterm1 | January 26, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"Australia Day" fireworks? Isn't that the day the indigenous inhabitants of Australia call "Invasion Day?'

Posted by: AlHerlands | January 26, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Yes Nadal plays too hard, meaning his tennis career is possibly only another 3-4 years. At the same time, as much as I like and respect Nadal, I don't believe he was injured. He was down a break, Ferrer was serving well, and all over Rafa's ground strokes; he faced too many break points. Rafa watched Ferrer's last match where he dominated the young guy Raonic, who had a huge serve. Rafa is great, he'll be back for Roland Garros, he owns that one!

Posted by: awfulexcuse1 | January 26, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The mettle of a man in sports is shown not only in victory, but in tests of adversity. Rafa showed how it is done, again. Crippled by a hamstring injury, he wouldn't quit, wouldn't make excuses and was deeply respectful to his opponent David Ferrer.
I am a Federer fan - but my respect and admiration of Rafa Nadal is deep.
It can be said that greatness still accrues to the loser - if they show grace, heart, and guts in a losing battle.
Rafa Nadal is more than his victories. It is a man who is respectful and considerate of others, a sportsman with a solid sense of honor, a man who regroups after injury and comes back with 100% determination who puts out his best every moment.
Francesca Shiavone also had such a moment, fighting like a lion against #1 Wozniacki before succumbing two days after a 4 1/2 hour grueling match.
To me, the most impressive thing Nadal has ever done was do a 5 1/2 hour war against Verdasco in 2008, then on less than a day's rest, take on and beat the #1 player Federer, who he had never beat on a Slam Hardcourt. Also at the Australian Open. One of the great feats in Tennis history.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | January 26, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

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