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Nadal beaten by inspired Gonzalez

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MELBOURNE, Australia -- Chile's Fernando Gonzalez demolished second seed Rafael Nadal in straight sets to earn a semifinal clash with Germany's Tommy Haas at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Gonzales, the 10th seed, played immaculate tennis to triumph 6-2 6-4 6-3 in a fraction over two hours on the Rod Laver Arena, wrapping up the match on his second match point as Nadal put a forehand wide.

It was a stunning victory for Gonzalez, who had served notice of his potential by beating home favorite Lleyton Hewitt followed by a straight sets win over American James Blake in the last 16.

Nadal, who had survived a classic late night five-setter against Britain's Andy Murray at the same stage, was simply overwhelmed by Gonzalez who never looked back after taking the opening set on a double break of service.

A single break in the second set was enough to secure a two sets to love lead and Nadal's hopes of staging a comeback were snuffed out as Gonzalez broke in the fifth game of the third with a blistering forehand winner.

Serving to stay in the match at 3-5 down, Nadal saved the first matchpoint but tamely surrendered with two forehands wide of the line.

"I am playing great tennis, I can do more things on the court, that makes me very happy," Gonzalez said.

"I have been in the (grand slam) quarterfinals a few times and I've never won a match, but today I played really unbelievable tennis and I hope to continue this way."

It was Gonzalez's third win in four meetings with Nadal and made him only the second Chilean to reach the semifinals of a grand slam in the open era (post-1969) following Marcelo Rios's run to the final in Australia in 1998.

Nadal blamed a thigh injury he sustained in his victory over Murray for his lackluster display.

"I have problems in my leg, so I cannot run. I can't run a lot. It was difficult playing a match like this," said Nadal.

"When I am on court, I am trying to run. Well, I can't. I can't start. It was difficult and disappointing for me."

Sweet revenge

Earlier, Tommy Haas gained sweet revenge by edging out third seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-3 2-6 1-6 6-1 7-5.

Haas, the 12th seed, was knocked out by the obdurate Russian in the last eight of the 2006 U.S. Open, but he recovered from 3-1 down in the fifth set and saved one match point before prevailing in an epic duel on Rod Laver Arena.

Having saved match point at 4-5 in the fifth, Haas broke and then had his first match point thwarted by an overrule from Hawk-eye before sealing victory in three hours and 19 minutes when the Russian's forehand drifted wide.

"(It was) one of my best matches, being down a break in the fifth, I was trying to hang in there," the 28-year-old said in a courtside interview.

"Memories from the U.S. Open came back when I lost 6-4 in the fifth, it was hard to swallow. I don't know how I did it, I'm so happy."

In a match of dashing baseline hitting, single breaks were enough for the two to share the opening sets.

Davydenko, who fell at the last eight stage for a third consecutive year, took the initiative by romping to the third in 33 minutes, but Haas took just one minute more to win the fourth 6-1 and take the game to a tense decider.

The Russian surged to a 3-1 lead when Haas netted a simple forehand but the German, a former world number two before fractures to both ankles sent him plummeting down the rankings, hit back.

He broke back immediately and the pair held until a nerve-racking ninth game when Haas served two double faults to hand Davydenko his match point.

But the Russian netted a backhand to miss his chance and Haas held only to then break Davydenko for a 6-5 lead courtesy of a crunching forehand winner.

Haas appeared to have won the match when a Davydenko forehand was called long but the Hawk-eye replay showed it had clipped the line by the narrowest margin. The German though made no mistake on the next point.


story.gonzalez.jpg

Gonzalez kept his composure to rout second seed Nadal in straight sets.

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