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Tennis-Hewitt benefits after Nadal injury blow

Written by: Staff

LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) Rafael Nadal's Wimbledon preparations suffered a blow today when he had to retire from his Stella Artois quarter-final against Australian Lleyton Hewitt with a shoulder injury.

The double French Open champion had taken the first set impressively 6-3 but needed treatment to his left shoulder in the second which he lost 6-3.

Nadal, the tournament's top seed, decided to quit before the start of the third set and will now face a race to be fit for the grasscourt grand slam which begins on June 26.

''I felt a lot of pain here,'' Nadal told reporters afterwards, indicating the point of his left shoulder. ''It would have been stupid to continue.'' Asked if he thought he would be fit for Wimbledon, the world number two replied: ''I don't know, I hope so.'' The 20-year-old Mallorcan, who beat Roger Federer to win his second French Open in a row on Sunday, said he planned to fly home later today to consult his doctor.

Nadal's defeat ended his run of 26 consecutive wins since his defeat by Carlos Moya at the Miami Masters in March.

US defending champion Andy Roddick was a confident 6-4 6-3 winner over Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, setting up an all-American semi-final against James Blake.

MONFILS INJURY Like Nadal, French teenager Gael Monfils quit his quarter-final against Blake due to injury.

The 19-year-old had lost the first set 6-1 to Blake when he retired with a back injury. He later pulled out of next week's Nottingham grasscourt event.

Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, faces Briton Tim Henman in the semi-finals after the Briton broke his jinx against Dmitry Tursunov by beating the Russian 6-3 7-6.

Australian Hewitt, three times a former champion at Queen's Club, beat Henman in the 2001 and 2002 finals.

Henman was knocked out of Wimbledon by Tursunov last year and also lost to him at this year's Australian Open and French Open.

In the second set, four-times Wimbledon semi-finalist Henman was a set point down but Tursunov double-faulted and the Briton rattled through the tiebreak 7-1, sealing victory with a big forehand.

''He's an awkward guy to play against, so it's good to get through and continue my form,'' said the 31-year-old Henman.

''I feel good about my game. After struggling on grass the last two years I do feel much more comfortable.'' REUTERS DH PM2318

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