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Brit ace Ward in semis as Nadal exits


British number two James Ward yesterday succeeded where Rafael Nadal failed as he marched through to the semi-finals of the AEGON Championships at Queen's Club.

Ward joined Andy Murray in the last four, and given they are on opposite sides of the draw that set up the possibility of an all-British final.

That would be remarkable, given Ward stands at 216th in the world rankings, but he added to his impressive list of victims this week by beating Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in three thrilling sets, 6-2 6-7 (14/16) 6-4.

Nadal was surprisingly ousted by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as the Spaniard took the opening set |7-3 on a tie-break but crumbled after Tsonga levelled the match.

Tsonga won 6-7 6-4 6-1 and awaits 24-year-old Ward today.

Ward recovered superbly from the blow of letting seven match points slip away in the second set against Mannarino, and then falling a break behind in the decider.

After sealing his victory the only disappointment for Ward was in learning that Nadal had lost, denying him the chance to face the world number one and reigning Wimbledon, US Open and French Open champion.

Ward led Mannarino by a set and a break and looked set for a straightforward victory against the world number 54.

The semi-finals were within sight but Mannarino hit back and won three games in a row to force Ward to serve at 6-5 behind to stay in the set.

He survived a deuce to force the tie-break, but then spurned the flurry of match points which came his way. And when the set went to Mannarino, it was easy to envisage him sprinting away with the third, more so when he broke and led 2-0.

But Ward was not remotely finished, and he stepped up his performance to level and then move a break ahead.

And he let out a roar of delight as, at the eighth attempt, he made the most of a match point.

“You're not going to give up at this point of the tournament,” Ward said. “I played a poor game at the beginning of the third but I knew I'd get my chances.

“It's a shame I'm not playing Rafael Nadal, but it's not exactly a bonus draw playing Tsonga.”

Murray did not have to hit a ball in his quarter-final, after Croatian Marin Cilic withdrew with an ankle injury.

The British number one will now meet four-time Queen's champion Andy Roddick in the last four.

American Roddick beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-2.

Murray said: “I would have rather played today, and got another match on the grass. It wasn't to be. I just have to take this day as a rest day, which in some ways is probably a good thing.”

Ana Ivanovic reached her first semi-final since October by beating Mirjana Lucic 6-3, 6-4 at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

Belfast Telegraph