James Ward beats Mannarino to reach Queen's semi-finals

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Queen's

British number two James Ward continued his incredible run at Queen's Club by posting two victories on a dramatic day to join Andy Murray in the semi-finals.

The Londoner, ranked 216 in the world, completed a rain-delayed third-round match against defending champion Sam Querrey, before returning a little over three hours later to defeat world number 54 Adrian Mannarino 6-2 6-7 (14-16) 6-4 in the quarter-finals.

Ward goes on to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last four at the Aegon Championships after the Frenchman earlier upset world number one Rafael Nadal in three sets.

With Murray already through to the semis thanks to a walkover, following an injury to Marin Cilic, Britain has two semi-finalists at Queen's for the first time since the Open era began in 1968.

And Ward, 24, can now look forward to his first semi-final on the ATP World Tour, as well as picking up a cheque for at least £22,566 for reaching the last four.

"Unbelievable," said the Englishman, who beat fourth seed Stanislas Wawrinka in round two.

"I didn't expect it at all. It was nail-biting, to say the least, but I got through it. I was just as tight as everyone else to be honest. There was a bit of everything in the match, a bit of luck as well.

"It's a shame I'm not playing Nadal, but it's not exactly a bonus draw playing Tsonga."

Ward had returned to action just after 1400 BST to complete the match against Querrey after bad light stopped play on Thursday evening with the score level at one set all, and he got the key break to clinch the decider and a 3-6 6-3 6-4 win.

Querrey had been struggling with an elbow injury on Thursday and a sharp backhand volley gave Ward the decisive break in game seven, before he closed out the win on his second match point with an unreturnable serve.

Another bout of showers meant Ward's quarter-final was also moved from Centre to Court One, a familiar hunting ground now for the Briton, and he looked comfortable from the outset, dominating the opening set on serve and breaking twice to take it.

When Ward moved a break up at 4-3 in the second with a rasping backhand he looked unstoppable, but nerves finally took hold when he served for the match at 5-4 and a poor game handed Mannarino a lifeline.

The tie-break was an epic, tortuous affair for supporters of both men, with Ward, now struggling to find any first serves, seeing seven match points slip by and Mannarino two chances to grab the set, before the Frenchman finally took it with a drop shot.

It was a hammer blow for Ward, who smashed his racquet on his way back to the chair and was unable to clear his head during a bathroom break, as he returned to court and promptly dropped serve to love at the start of the decider.

But Ward's challenge was not over by any stretch and - with Prime Minister David Cameron now among the Court One crowd - the British number two began to work his way back into the match with the kind of solid baseline hitting that had brought him so far, getting back on level terms at 2-2.

Each man failed to convert from 15-40 in games seven and eight, but Mannarino faltered once again when serving at 4-5, with a poor lob and a backhand over the baseline handing Ward two more match points.

There was to be no repeat of the tie-break drama, and Ward looked as surprised as he did elated when Mannarino dragged a forehand into the net to give the Englishman the biggest win of his career on his eighth match point.

"I was very tight, yeah," Ward said of the tie-break afterwards.

"I think we both were. You could see in his reaction as well, how much it meant to him when I hit a couple of double faults or he missed the forehand in the net, and there were stupid mistakes from us both at crucial times.

"But it happens, you know. Look at what's on the line, and it's a great opportunity for us both playing each other, so I think it's quite normal."

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