April 1, 2011
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will go head to head in the Sony Ericsson Open after both won their respective quarter-finals.
Frenchman Simon had won two of his previous three matches against Federer but was trailing 3-0 in the first set of their Miami clash when he pulled out, citing a neck problem.
The decision drew a negative response from the crowd, who had expected a closely-fought match, but third seed Federer had some sympathy for Simon.
“It’s not a whole lot of fun honestly because you see the guy being booed off the court, which he clearly doesn’t deserve,” Federer said.
“I understand the frustration from the people paying a lot of money to come see us play for multiple hours potentially, and then it’s over within 10 minutes. I think we only played 15 points, so it’s not great.
“We’ve played some funny matches against each other. The five-setter this year [at the Australian Open, which Federer won], then the three games here.
“The second time around when we played in Shanghai, I came off a back injury and I couldn’t really play properly as well.
“Then we had the first one as well, the first time around we played in Toronto, which was basically a normal match. Same also in Australia this year, but that one went the distance and was all intense.
“I guess I’m just happy to be in the semis at this point.”
Simon explained he had first felt the neck troubling him during his morning practice session.
The 26-year-old said: “It’s a pain I have sometimes. I had it in Rotterdam one month ago. I couldn’t play either.
“I have some problem with my back. I know I have to work on it. Sometimes I just wake up like this and cannot turn my head that much and really feel uncomfortable on the court.
“Tennis is a hard game. You have to play 100% if you want to have a chance to win. When you play Roger, you have to play more than that.
“I tried to relax after the warm-up. I tried everything – anti-inflammatories, hot cream, just trying to feel better.
“Just after the second forehand, I tried it hit it very hard; I felt it very hard also.
“I knew I had no chance to play today.”
World number one Nadal was stretched by the big-hitting Tomas Berdych, prevailing in three sets 6-2 3-6 6-3, to set up a marquee showdown with Federer.
Nadal got off to a blazing start, making the Czech run all over the court and wrapping the set easily with a double break.
However, the Spainard suffered a dip in form in the second while Berdych upped his game to push the match into a deciding set.
It went on serve until the eight game when Nadal gained the crucial break and then served out the match to enter the last four.
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