Roddick advances, Nadal ousted

August 18, 2006 04:12 PM

By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer

MASON, Ohio (AP) -- Rejuvenated Andy Roddick advanced to the semifinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters with a 6-3, 6-4 victory Friday night over Andy Murray, ending the British teenager's whirlwind week.

The 19-year-old Murray provided the tournament's signature moment two days earlier, stopping Roger Federer's 55-match winning streak in North America with a stunning straight-set victory.

Also Friday, No. 2 Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets to fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero, turning the tournament into an ATP rarity.

No Federer, no Nadal. It doesn't happen often.

The last 15 times Federer and Nadal were entered in the same tournament, one of them won it -- a streak that began after the 2005 Australian Open. This time, the world's top two players are heading into the U.S. Open off big upsets.

And, players like Roddick sense opportunity.

The American reached his first final of the year in Indianapolis last month, then strained his left side and had to drop out of three tournaments. He started serving the day before his first match in Cincinnati, and has gotten better as he's gone along.

Using his 135 mph serve and attacking style, Roddick never let the up-and-coming Murray get a toehold. He broke him to go up 5-3 in the first set, then let out a scream when he closed out the next game.

Murray, in only his second year on the tour, was exhausted by his recent run of top-notch tennis -- 14 matches in 17 days, much more than his norm. He could barely stand at the end of a three-set win over Robby Ginepri on Thursday, a 2-hour match on aching legs.

The teenager looked refreshed at the outset Friday -- playing a night match allowed him few more hours' rest -- but he couldn't find any weaknesses to exploit in Roddick's game.

Murray was downcast after his weak drop shot landed several feet short of the net in the second set, allowing Roddick to break his serve for a 3-2 lead. Murray shuffled to his courtside chair, picked up a towel and covered the side of his face, staring straight ahead.

Then, he cracked for the first time all week.

Serving with a 40-0 lead in the seventh game, Murray dropped the next five points to give Roddick a 5-2 advantage. Murray walked to the sideline, smacked the chair with his racket, then slammed the head of the racket on the ground three times in frustration.

His remarkable run was about to end.

In the day's first quarterfinal match, the unseeded Ferrero put together one of his best performances of the year, making few mistakes during a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) victory that was delayed because of rain in the second set.

"It's very special to win today," Ferrero said.

Nadal was simply outplayed by Ferrero, who won the French Open and was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2003 and is trying to regain his touch.

"He played his best match against me, for sure," Nadal said. "I don't play the best match of my life, but I wasn't playing very bad."

Everything seemed to be in Nadal's favor at the outset. He had played well this week and was 4-0 career against Ferrero, all of those wins coming last year.

Plus, Ferrero hadn't even reached a tournament quarterfinals since April, an indication of how far he had fallen in the past three years.

"I think I can play like this a lot of matches," said Ferrero, now No. 31 in the world rankings. "I hope to do well at the U.S. Open. I'm ready to have another good result."

He'll face No. 7 Tommy Robredo -- another of the four Spaniards who reached the tournament's quarterfinals -- on Saturday. Robredo beat No. 4 Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (6), 6-2 to reach the semifinals, and is the highest remaining seeded player in the tournament.