Smooth sailing for Nadal, Murray in season-opener

January 01, 2014 - 2:36:27 pm

World number one Rafael Nadal in action against Lukas Rosol of Czech Republic during their first round match of the Qatar Open at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex yesterday. Nadal won 6-2, 7-6. RIGHT: Great Britain’s Andy Murray in action against Mousa Shanan Zayed of Qatar. Murray won 6-0, 6-0. PICTURES BY: SHAIVAL DALAL

BY RIZWAN REHMAT

DOHA: World number one Rafael Nadal and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray yesterday produced straight-set wins while second seed David Ferrer of Spain needed an extra push to advance to the second round at the $1m Qatar Open.

Nadal struck the ball sweetly to launch the new tennis season in style, beating 2012 Wimbledon nemesis Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic following a teasing second set that was decided in a tie-breaker.

Nadal, who added two Grand Slam titles to his overall collection last year, won 6-2, 7-6 (9-7).

After the match, Nadal could barely stop grinning.

“I want to wish everyone a happy 2014,” Nadal, 27, said with a cheesy smile on his face. 

“I am sorry I wasn’t here last year,” Nadal said to a loud round of applause from those at Khalifa Tennis Complex.

“It feels greats. It is the first week of the new season,” Nadal said after his 103-minute workout.

Earlier, Murray showed no mercy to Qatari wildcard Mousa Shanan Zayed who went down in just 37 minutes.

In a match that produced short rallies due to high winds, Murray won without dropping his serve to seal his 6-0, 6-0 victory in just 37 minutes.

Ferrer, who won two tiles in 2013, overcame a slight mid-match crisis to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.

Seeded two in Doha, Ferrer won 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in two hours 4 minutes on the centre court.

Nadal, who famously lost to Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon in 2012, broke his opponent in games six and eight to take the first set with ease.

In the second set, both players held their serve until the nine game when the Czech broke the top seed with powerful returns from the baseline. Nadal broke back Rosol in the very next game to draw level at 5-all.

In the tie-breaker, an under-pressure Rosol was guilty of a double fault that handed a 4-3 advantage to Nadal. The Spaniard raced to a 6-3 lead to reach the first of his five match-points. 

Leading 8-7, Rosol returned long to exit the season’s first event.

Nadal will play Tobias Kamke of Germany today.

Also yesterday, Germany’s Daniel Brands produced a shock win over former champion Nikolay Davydenko of Russia in straight sets.

Brands, one of five Germans in action yesterday, won 6-4, 6-4 in 80 minutes. Brands will now play Ferrer in the second round today.

Another German Dustin Brown hammered Ivan Dodig of Croatia to sail into round two of the first event of the new season. Brown, who reached the main draw as a qualifier, won 6-4, 6-2 in 55 minutes. Ferrer will now meet Brands in the second round today.

Playing his first official match since September this year, Murray was barely tested by opponent ranked 2129 in the world.

Murray - the Wimbledon champion - fired two aces before wrapping things up with an easy forehand from the baseline.

“I will probably go hit a few balls since we didn’t have that many long rallies,” Murray said. 

“I will join my coach for a few hits,” the Briton said.

“It is good to be back. It was quite windy,” Murray said. 

“I didn’t feel sorry for him during the match. After the match, yes,” Murray added when asked about his opponent.

Qatar’s Zayed said: “It was a good experience for me to play somebody like Murray. He is one of the best players on the Tour. I thank Qatar Tennis Federation for giving me the wildcard. I will continue playing tennis besides focusing on my studies.”

Also yesterday, seventh seed Ernests Gulbis of Latvia won a three-setter against British qualifier Daniel Evans. Gulbis won 6-2, 4-6, 6-0.

The Peninsula

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