Rafael Nadal loses in straight sets at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal's bid to land the "Rafa Slam" ended in frustration tonight as injury contributed to his exit from the Australian Open for the second successive year.

Nadal injured his left hamstring early in his last-eight clash with David Ferrer and his Spanish compatriot took full advantage to go through 6-4 6-2 6-3 and secure a semi-final spot against Andy Murray.

The world number one had to pull out of his quarter-final against Murray 12 months ago to the day with a knee problem when two sets down before going on to win at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

He arrived in Melbourne aiming to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles simultaneously.

But he got off to a dreadful start when, in a lengthy first service game, he appeared to injure his hamstring as Ferrer broke. Nadal broke straight back but it quickly became apparent there was a problem with the top seed when he left the Rod Laver Arena for treatment at 2-1 down.

When he returned, a shake of the head in the direction of his camp further suggested he would not be able to produce his customary all-action style.

And so it proved as Ferrer broke once more to establish a 3-1 lead.

Nadal rallied by getting it back on serve at 5-4 but he immediately lost his serve again as he struggled to push off his left leg, handing his Davis Cup team-mate the opening set.

Nadal started the second with renewed purpose and broke to love to establish a 2-1 lead. But Ferrer simply upped his game, moving Nadal around with some punishing groundstrokes which inevitably took their toll as the 28-year-old levelled it up.

After the next game the match was stopped for 10 minutes so the players would not be distracted by the nearby fireworks to celebrate Australia Day.

But the stoppage hindered rather than helped Nadal as he had to stand idle on a cool Melbourne night.

And when play got under way again Ferrer seized the moment to grab two quick breaks and the second set.

The seventh seed surged into a 3-0 lead in the third as well and, although Nadal did manage three holds, there was never a chance Ferrer would blow up and squander the opportunity of just a fourth win in 15 meetings against the Mallorcan and his first since 2007.

Afterwards, Ferrer admitted it was not the way he wanted to go through.

"It's not easy. Rafa is a gentleman and played on after being injured in the first set," he said.

"I fought a lot and it was still not easy.

"I played aggressively and tried to go to the net but if Rafael was not injured I would not have won in three sets. It is a win but not how I wanted to win.

"I just tried to focus on my own game and I am happy. I will do my best now in the semi-finals."

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