Nadal knocked out in Qatar
Filed Under: Sports | Posted: 01/09/2009 at 9:04AM
Comments | Region: Qatar
Rafael Nadal’s hopes of lifting the Qatar Open title are over after he was surprisingly beaten by France’s Gael Monfils.
Rafael Nadal’s hopes of lifting the Qatar Open title are over after the world number one was surprisingly beaten 6-4 6-4 by France’s Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals in Doha.
Top seed Nadal had defeated Monfils easily in their three previous meetings but the exciting 22-year-old, who has risen to 13th in the world on the back of an impressive 2008, turned the tables with an excellent performance.
Monfils is one of the few players who can compete with Nadal’s athleticism but it was his serve that proved the difference today, the fifth seed winning 83% of points on his first delivery.
Nadal converted the only break point he had but that was not enough as Monfils racked up three breaks, including in the final game, for a notable victory.
Monfils, a finalist in Doha in 2006, will face fourth seed Andy Roddick in the last four after the American breezed past Victor Hanescu 6-3 6-2.
Roddick was particularly dominant on serve against the Romanian and will need to match that tomorrow if he is to deny Monfils a place in the final.
Second seed Roger Federer progressed through to the last four but he was given a stern test by Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The Swiss, champion in Doha in 2005 and 2006, maintained his record of not dropping a set in this year’s tournament, saving three set points in the second set to record a 6-2 7-6 (8/6) win.
Federer began like a man in a hurry, racing into a 3-0 lead, but eighth seed Kohlschreiber broke straight back.
Parity was short-lived, however, as a focused-looking Federer rattled off three straight games to take the first set.
That quickly became six games in a row as the 13-time grand slam champion seemingly took a firm grip on the match.
To his credit, Kohlschreiber never gave up hope and he was rewarded for taking the match to his opponent with a break of his own to get back on serve.
The German then withstood more pressure on his serve to level at 4-4.
Kohlschreiber was by now playing with aggression and no little skill, and he saved his best for the tie-break, where he surged into a 5-1 lead before racking up three set points.
It was still not enough to force a deciding set, however, as Federer dug deep to level at 6-6 before sealing victory with a searing forehand down the line.
Federer will face defending champion Andy Murray in a mouth-watering semi-final after the British number one beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4 6-2 in the last quarter-final.
The pair met in the final of the US Open juniors in 2004 but have had different career paths since then, with Murray climbing to fourth in the world while Stakhovsky has plied his trade mainly on the Challenger circuit.
The first set was a close affair with the Ukrainian more than matching his opponent for touch and shot-making.
Stakhovsky broke straight back after gifting the third seed the advantage in only the third game, but another sloppy game cost him dearly as Murray moved a set ahead.
The second set was largely one-way traffic, the British number one surging into a 5-0 lead before Stakhovsky at least got on the board with two late games.
Tomorrow’s semi-final will be the sixth meeting between Federer and Murray in the last year.
The Scot has won four of those matches, including epic affairs at the World Tennis Championship last week and the season-ending Masters Cup in November, but was comprehensively beaten in the most high-profile meeting – the US Open final.
The winner of tomorrow’s match will be a clear favourite for the title following Nadal’s defeat.