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Nadal through to semis after Djokovic quits

Written by: Staff

PARIS, June 7 (Reuters) Champion Rafael Nadal coasted into the French Open semi-finals today when his Serbian opponent Novak Djokovic retired injured when trailing by two sets to love in their quarter-final.

Djokovic, 19, needed treatment for a thigh problem during the match and quit at 15-30 in the first game of the third set having lost the first two 6-4 6-4.

Nadal plays either Frenchman Julien Benneteau or Croatian fourth seed Ivan Ljubicic in the last four.

''At the beginning of the second set I had the feeling he was injured,'' said Nadal, who has now gone 58 consecutive matches unbeaten on clay.

''I think it is a very tough tournament with a lot of long matches, but I'm not tired. I feel good and now I have to concentrate on the semi-final.'' Nadal is only a year older than Djokovic but physically it was man against boy as the heavily muscled Mallorcan asserted his authority on a sunny centre ocurt.

Djokovic had never been beyond the third round of a grand slam before and ousted three seeds on his way to the last eight but he lost his opening two service games against Nadal and never recovered.

The Spaniard also lost his first service game before controlling the opening set and he took it with a skewered forehand into the corner of the court.

He was soon 4-1 up in the second with Djokovic needing a medical timeout to treat apparent back and thigh problems.

The Serbian bravely broke back for 2-4 but an errant backhand cost him the set.

Nadal characteristically clenched his fist and Djokovic, faced with overturning a two-set deficit against a seemingly invincible opponent, called it quits soon afterwards.

Nadal, who had not looked entirely comfortable in the early rounds, remains on course for a much-anticipated showdown with world number one Roger Federer in Sunday's final.

Reuters DH VV1839

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