Nadal joins the lengthening list of top seeds forced into early exit

THE cull of the top seeds was completed at Queen's Club on Friday when world No1 Rafael Nadal was beaten by fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the quarter-finals.

Nadal, undefeated since early April, succumbed 7-6, 6-4 on centre court and promptly withdrew from the doubles before heading to the airport for a flight home to Mallorca for some sunshine, a little golf and to watch the World Cup on television.

"I feel ready to go back home and enjoy a little bit with my family," said Nadal, who showed no sign of the leg muscle injury that caused a pre-Wimbledon scare on Thursday, after his 24-match winning streak came to an end.

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"It's going to be a positive thing to enjoy a little bit of Mallorca weather, have dinner with friends and maybe play some golf. It's going to be very positive to help me go to Wimbledon with good motivation."

Wimbledon starts on 21 June and this tournament at the up-market Queen's Club is viewed as a yardstick for challengers in the grasscourt slam but the top six seeds this year have all tumbled early.

Three-times Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic went out on Thursday and defending champion Andy Murray followed yesterday.

Nadal had not dropped a set against eighth seed Lopez in five matches since 2003 and was on a 14-match winning streak on grass dating back to the 2007 Wimbledon final. Despite those statistics, yesterday's loss was not totally surprising. The 24-year-old has had little time to adapt to London's slick grass after a 22-match winning streak on clay culminated in a deserved fifth French Open title on Sunday.

He thrashed Brazilian baseliner Daniel Marcos in the second round but then scrambled past Denis Istomin in round three.

The rangy, left-handed Lopez was a far more formidable foe on grass. "When you play against big servers like Mardy Fish, Feliciano, the matches depend on a few points," said Nadal.

"Grass is not an easy surface and the first week on grass anything can happen."