Nalbandian inflicts shock defeat on Nadal

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MADRID, Oct 19 (Reuters) Unseeded Argentine David Nalbandian inflicted a shock 6-1 6-2 defeat on world number two Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Masters today to earn a semi-final showdown against Serbian youngster Novak Djokovic.

An out-of-sorts Nadal still looked to be suffering from the after-effects of last night's gruelling victory over Andy Murray as he surrendered his serve on five occasions and failed to find the range on his ground strokes.

For Nalbandian, a runner-up in Madrid in 2004, the victory put him into the last four of a tournament for the first time this year and will have come as a welcome boost at the end of a disappointing season that saw him drop out of the top 10 to 25th in the world.

Unlike Murray, who had five break point opportunities early in his match against Nadal, the Argentine took his chances and cracked the Spaniard's serve in the third.

With Nadal on the ropes, he broke twice more to take the set 6-1 in under half an hour.

FRUSTRATED NADAL Nadal struggled to control his ground shots while Nalbandian continued to exploit his problems to the full as he stretched the Mallorcan across the court and kept the rallies going to tire 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 to book his place in the last four.

The 20-year-old Serb became the first player to take a set off Ancic this week when he took the opener on a tie-break, but then twice broke his opponent's serve in the second to run out a comfortable winner.

Defending champion 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.

Reuters BJR RN2225

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