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Spain’s David Ferrer returns the ball to Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi during their quarter-final match of the Qatar Open at the Khalifa Intenational Tennis and Squash Complex yesterday. Ferrer won 6-3, 6-0. RIGHT: Germany’s Daniel Brands celebrates his win against France’s Gael Monfils their quarter-final match. Brands won 6-1, 7-5. PICTURES BY: SALIM MATRAMKOT
by Armstrong Vas
Doha: Top-seeded David Ferrer will take on 2010 champion Nikolay Davydenko while second seed Richard Gasquet faces qualifier Daniel Brands in the semi-finals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open here today.
Yesterday at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, the top seed from Spain took 63 minutes to dispatch the challenge of Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in an easy 6-3, 6-0 victory.
Ferrer, who is bidding to become the first Spaniard to win the singles title in the tournament’s 20-year history, was never tested on serve and broke the Italian four times to move through in 62 minutes.
The world No.5 won 24 of the last 28 points over his opponent, who is ranked 58 places below in the ATP rankings, to continue his impressive form in the tournament.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) and tonight I had a very good feeling – tomorrow (Friday) maybe I will not play better, no, but I am trying to be focused, to win. In the second set, I played more aggressive with my game. It’s never easy to play (well) in the first week of the season,” Ferrer said.
The Spaniard was quick to dismiss suggestions that he can break into the top four in the rankings.
“That’s very difficult. At the moment the top four, they are better than me,” he said.
But Ferrer is likely to overtake injured compatriot Nadal, the current world No.4, ahead of the Australian which starts in ten days time from now.
Last year, Ferrer enjoyed a career-best season, leading the ATP World Tour with seven titles and 76 match wins.
In today’s semi-final Ferrer aims to raise his game.
“I need to improve my serve, sure, to win tomorrow. But I played good in the baseline, and I am positive. I’m trying to. I will be positive,” he said.
On his semi-final opponent he said: “He was on top three or top four, I’m not sure. He played unbelievable, no? He has really good shots, very good backhand. He move really good. The last two years he was injured, and maybe he’s not in his best performance, but I think this year or this week he’s playing really good tennis.”
Ferrer is focussed on the Qatar challenge and has no thoughts of the Australian Open at the moment.
“I’m not focussed on the Australian Open, no? I’m focused on this tournament. It’s very important for me. After this tournament I will play in Auckland, no? I am not thinking about Australia. When I will play the week of Australian Open, I will be focused there but not in this moment,” he added.
In the other quarter-final Davydenko took just 49 minutes to defeat Simone Bolelli 6-1, 6-1. The Russian, who is eyeing a place in a first final in 20 months, capitalised on all five of his break points and won 75 percent of his first serve return points to remain undefeated against Bolelli in their four meetings.
The former world number three’s win over the world number 83 from Italy was the quickest of the tournament.
The 31-year-old quick fire win, the third successive straight sets win, has raised hopes for the Russian to regain the Qatar Open title he so spectacularly won three years ago.
Davydenko won the Qatar Open in 2010 and on the way defeated two top ranked players Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same tournament.
For the Russian the Qatar tournament has been a happy hunting ground in the past.
“I have been in the semi-finals five times here now,” he said.
“I like it here and maybe this is my tournament.”
Davydenko said he and Ferrer has played some tough matches in the past and today’s semi-final will be a closely fought encounter, he hoped.
“If I play against him today with the same level I can beat him, but tomorrow (today) will be different day, and we’ll see how I feel and how Ferrer will play, also,” added Davydenko.
Meanwhile, world No. 10 Gasquet advanced to the semi-finals, dismissing Lukas Lacko 6-1, 6-3.
The second seed won 55 percent of his return points, breaking the Slovakian five times. Gasquet sealed the victory in 71 minutes to defeat Lacko for the second time.
“I returned better and served better than yesterday. It’s a good match for me,” said Gasquet.
“I’m happy. I feel more confident than yesterday. It’s a good win for me,” he added.
The Frenchman, who recorded his 300th match win in the second round, is aiming to win his eighth ATP World Tour title.
Gasquet semi-final opponent Brands registered the biggest upset of the tournament.
The 153th-ranked Brands reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final since October 2011 as he defeated France’s Gael Monfils 6-1, 7-5.
The German qualifier, who had upset fifth seed Jeremy Chardy in the first round, broke serve four times to knock out former World No. 7 Monfils in 63 minutes.
“I had three matches in the qualifiers, which were also not so easy,” said Brands.
“If you win the matches, you get confidence. That’s very important for me. I can’t believe it right now. If I have confidence and I feel good, then I can play like today. I hope I can keep on playing like this in my next match tomorrow and let’s see what happens,” he added.
A disappointed Monfils said: “Well, obviously I think today my opponent was better than me. I think he went for his shots more than me, and obviously at the end he was like blowing in like every ball. You know, he was better than me today.”the Peninsula