Battling Murray sets up Nadal duel

ANDY MURRAY came from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet in a thrilling Centre court showdown — to set up a quarter-final clash with Rafael Nadal today.

The Scot looked down and out when Gasquet served for the match in the third set but he recovered for a superb 5-7 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 6-4 victory as light faded over SW19 last night.

Nadal, earlier dispatched Mikhail Youzhny 6-3 6-3 6-1. The Spanish second seed avenged the worst defeat of his career — a 6-0 6-1 thrashing in Chennai earlier this year — by battering Youzhny into submission in two hours and 10 minutes on Court One.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer served his way into the quarter-finals with a straight-sets victory over Lleyton Hewitt.

Federer fired down 21 aces as he beat 2002 champion Hewitt 7-6 (9/7) 6-2 6-4 in the fourth round on Centre Court.

“I think I served really well which was important against Lleyton,” Federer admitted.

“I saw he was struggling with his hip but nevertheless, he was dangerous. I think the key was the first set tie-break and afterwards I played consistently well and saved a lot of break points which was crucial.”

Federer will meet Mario Ancic who refused to contemplate the size of the task facing him after his epic victory over Fernando Verdasco.

Ancic came from two sets down to beat Verdasco 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 13-11 in three hours and 49 minutes.

The Croatian was the last player to beat Federer on grass in the first round here in 2002, but admitted: “He was not Roger Federer at that time.”

Meanwhile in the women’s competition, Jelena Jankovic crashed out with a parting shot at tournament organisers.

Hampered by a knee injury, the number two seed from Serbia slumped to a 6-3 6-2 defeat to Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn on the first match on Court 18.

The world number three spent Sunday undergoing intensive treatment on theinjury she suffered in Saturday’s third-round victory over Caroline Wozniacki.

She had pleaded for a late start yesterday in order to improve her chances of recovering so was upset to discover she had been handed a midday match.

“I was really not happy with the scheduling,” Jankovic said. “I asked to play a little bit later on in the day, which would give me a few more hours to recover and do another therapy (session) in the morning.”

Jankovic was also frustrated at being forced to play away from the two maincourts, arguing her seeding demanded centre-stage.

“I’m asking why is the number two seed playing on Court 18?” she said,pointing out champion Venus Williams had been similarly snubbed.

Regardless of how it happened, the 23-year-old’s demise created Wimbledon history yesterday.

Since seedings began 81 years ago, never have all the top three women’s seeds all failed to reach the quarter-finals.

But the early exits of Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and now Jankovic has in theory set up one of the most open championships in history.

However, the prospect of an all-Williams final looms large, with world number 60 Tanasugarn looking mere cannon-fodder for champion Venus ahead of their quarter-final today.

Venus barely broke sweat in the course of her painfully predictable 6-3 6-4 victory over Russian 18-year-old Alisa Kleybanova.

And no sooner had Venus swished back into the locker room than it was Serena’s turn to put unfamiliar environs to the back of her mind and overcome fellow American Bethanie Mattek 6-3 6-3.

And to top it all, fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova went the way of numbers one, two and three as she slipped to a 6-4 1-6 7-5 defeat at the hands of Agnieszka Radwanska.

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