Rafael Nadal of Spain serves to Ernest Gulbis of Latvia during their Qatar Open match at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, yesterday.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: World number one Rafel Nadal of Spain yesterday reached the semi-finals at the $1m Qatar Open, setting up a last-four date with his ‘former fan’ Peter Gojowczyk from Germany.
Top seed Nadal beat seventh seed Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in straight sets to reach his second semi-final at Qatar Open where qualifier Gojowczyk edged past fellow German Daniel Brown in three sets.
Nadal, seeking his first Qatar Open trophy after losing the 2010 final, yesterday won 7-5, 6-4 in 1 hour 54 minutes.
German qualifier Gojowczyk extended his dream run in Doha by beating Brown 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 in 1 hour 57 minutes.
Gojowczyk - who upset sixth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in round two on Wednesday - now meets an opponent he chased for an autograph at Flushing Meadows last fall.
“I think I take signature of him in New York at the US Open,”
Gojowczyk said when asked about his first meeting with Nadal. “I met him in the locker room and said ‘can I get a signature’,” he added.
“I think he knows me now and it’s great,” Gojowczyk, 24, said with a smile.
“I met him now in the locker room and he said ‘congrats Peter,”
Gojowczyk said about his brief meeting with Nadal yesterday.
Soon after the first quarter-finals, Doha received its first winter rain which forced ATP Tour officials to stop play for more than an hour at Khalifa Tennis Complex. However, Gojowczyk wasn’t thinking about the rain.
“I don’t know what I can say,” Gojowczyk said when asked about his win.
“First of all I want to thank the fans for supporting me,”
Gojowczyk, who fired four aces, said. “I am so happy that I am in the semi-finals in Doha.
“It is unbelievably good feeling for me to be here on the centre court. It was a challenge. I know Dustin very well. You never know what comes from Dustin,” Gojowczyk added.
“I don’t know yet,” Gojowczyk said when asked if 2014 would be his year. “It feels great to reach semis for the first time.”
It was Gojowczyk’s second win against Brown in five ATP Tour meetings. Despite the loss, Brown fired an impressive nine aces.
Nadal praised Gojowczyk’s win yesterday.
“I saw him play today. He won an amazing match,” Nadal said.
“He came back after a tough situation. (I am) happy to see him on Tour. I hope tomorrow he doesn’t play that good,” Nadal said with a smile.
“I congratulated him. But I want to be in the final,” Nadal, 27, added.
Gojowczyk is playing in the main draw of the Qatar Open for the first time. Before yesterday’s clash between Brown and Gojowczyk, just seven qualifiers had reached the quarter-finals in Doha since 1993. On Wednesday, Brown squeezed past Ivo Karlovic of Croatia to reach the quarter-finals. It was Brown’s fourth quarter-final on the ATP Tour.
In the second semi-final today, Florian Mayer of Germany will meet Gael Monfils of France.
In the quarter-finals yesterday, Mayer beat Romania’s Victor Hanescu 6-4, 6-7 (10-8), 6-4 while Monfils crushed Germany’s Daniel Brands 6-2, 6-1.