Monfils shocks Nadal in Qatar Open quarter-finals
DOHA: Rafael Nadal made a miserable start to the first season he has ever begun as world number one, losing in the Qatar Open quarter-finals to Gael Monfils in less than an hour and a half on Thursday.
But although the Wimbledon, French Open and Olympic champion was not at his best, he certainly did enough to have survived against most other players apart from the superbly in-form Monfils.
The 22-year-old Frenchman reminded everyone during his 6-4, 6-4 win that he was tipped as a future world number one himself and that he still has the speed of foot, the weight of shot, the passion, and enough time left to achieve that goal.
It did though raise questions as to whether or not Nadal - who was also beaten by Andy Murray in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi on Sunday - might have had his off-season preparation affected by the troublesome knee injuries which caused him to miss the last two events of 2008.
World number 13 Monfils will face Andy Roddick, who defeated Romania''s Victor Hanescu, for a place in the final.
The other semi-final will be a mouthwatering clash between Roger Federer and Murray, a repeat of the 2008 US Open final won by the Swiss.
Federer enjoyed a 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) win against Philipp Kohlschreiber, the eighth-seeded German, coming from 3/6 down in the tie-break to win it 8/6 with five perfectly played points in a row.
Murray also enjoyed a hot streak during his 6-2, 6-4 win over Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine, which was a repeat of their US junior open final of 2004.