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Tennis | Australian Open

Almagro denies 'mentality problem' after implosion



Nicolas Almagro denied he had a "mentality problem" on Tuesday after he let slip a gilt-edged chance at the Australian Open to reach his first major semifinal and end his winless record against David Ferrer.

The Spanish 10th seed with the smooth, one-handed backhand played two sumptuous sets and served three times for the match in the third set, but he simply couldn't get over the line.

He also lost a fourth-set tiebreak as Ferrer, the fourth seed, got off the hook 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 and reached his second semifinal at Melbourne Park.

The result was agonising for Almagro, 27, who has now gone 34 Grand Slam tournaments without reaching the last four, and has never beaten Ferrer in 13 attempts.

Almagro also lost the decisive rubber in the Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic in November. But he dismissed suggestions of mental fragility, saying he was struggling with ankle and adductor muscle problems against Ferrer.

"If you're not 100 percent to play, I don't know if it's mental or not," he said. "I think I tried to play my best tennis today. I said a few days ago I will try to play aggressive, I will try to play my best tennis, and I think I did today.

"It wasn't enough to beat David. But we'll see what happens in the future. I am ready to work and we'll see. I don't know. I don't think that it's a mentality problem.

"If I had mentality problem, I don't think I would have won the first two sets."

He added: "But today was a big opportunity for me. Well, I'm going to work to be ready for the next."

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