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FEDERER FALLS, NADAL ROARS!

No quarterfinal showdown between tennis’ biggest rivals

NEW YORK (AFP) – Roger Federer crashed out of the US Open in the fourth round on Monday while Rafael Nadal captured his 19th hardcourt win in a row to reach the quarter-finals without having allowed a service break.

Federer suffered a stunning upset at the hands of Spanish 19th seed Tommy Robredo, whose 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4 shocker was his first victory in 11 matches against the 17-time Grand Slam champion and five-time US Open winner.

“I’m going to feel like I beat myself,’’ Federer said. “It was up to me to make the difference and I just couldn’t.

“I self-destructed, which is really disappointing. When things came to the crunch I just couldn’t do it. It’s frustrating.’’

Federer’s failure, which came on the heels of a shock secondround Wimbledon exit, thwarted a potential quarter-final match with 12-time Grand Slam winner Nadal in what would have been their first meeting on the New York hardcourts.

“If I’m playing like this, I’m not going to beat Rafa,’’ Federer said.

This was the first year since 2002 that Federer has not made a Grand Slam final.

Instead, it will be Robredo in his first US Open quarter-final against second-seeded countryman Nadal, who dispatched Germany’s 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

“It was very tough conditions, very humid. I sweat too much,’’ Nadal said. “But the opponent was great. Lucky to be through I think. I fought a lot to get through this match.’’

Nadal leads the ATP with nine titles this season and a 56-3 record since ending a sevenmonth injury layoff last February, his sore knees having kept him out of last year’s US Open.

Nadal has won all six career meetings with Robredo, but Federer was 10-0 against Robredo before being sent home.

“He will come to my match with big confidence,’’ Nadal said. “I hope to be ready for that.’’

Robredo suffered seven prior fourth-round US Open defeats and matched his best Grand Slam performance with the dramatic upset.

“To beat Roger, it’s something amazing,’’ Robredo said. “It’s like a dream. I am so happy. It was a great day.’’

Ferrer will face French eighth seed Richard Gasquet, who outlasted 10th seed Milos Raonic 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (11/9), 7-5 after four hours and 40 minutes and despite the Canadian’s 39 aces, the thirdmost ever in a US Open match.

Ferrer is 8-1 all-time against Gasquet, whose only prior fourth-round Slam win in 17 attempts came on his way to a 2007 Wimbledon semi-final.

In taking as many sets off Federer as he had in 10 prior losses combined, Robredo also raised questions about the future of the former world number one, who had not missed the US Open quarter-finals since a 2003 fourth-round exit.

Federer, 32, won only two of 16 break-point chances.

“I’m delighted. Today the difference is I won the break points and he did not,’’ said Robredo.

Federer, whose seventh seeding at the US Open was his lowest at a Grand Slam event since 2002, hit 45 winners but also made 43 unforced errors and managed only five aces.

“I started badly,’’ Federer said. “But I struggled throughout, which is not very satisfying. I missed so many opportunities. Rhythm was off. When those things happen, clearly it’s always going to be difficult.’’

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