Andy Murray cruised past James Blake 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday to set up a semi-final meeting with Roger Federer at the inaugural Capitala World Tennis Championship.
In the other first-round match, Nikolay Davydenko ousted Andy Roddick 6-4, 6-4 and was due to face Rafael Nadal in yesterday’s semis. Nadal and Federer both received first-round byes in the exhibition event, which is not part of the ATP Tour but features six of the world’s top 10 players and offers a winner-take-all prize of US$250,000.
Murray broke Blake in the third game and then took a 5-2 lead after using two forehand winners for another break. The struggling Blake was then broken twice in a row in the second set as Murray raced out to a 4-0 lead and never looked in danger of losing control.
Roddick started by hitting three aces in his opening service game but was broken in the next after missing a forehand, which was enough to give Davydenko the set. Roddick then made two unforced errors in the fourth game of the second set to give Davydenko another break, and the Russian confidently held his serve the rest of the way without exhausting himself.
“For these [exhibition] matches, concentration is not 100 percent and you don’t run that extra hard between the lines,” Davydenko said.
Capitala is the first major tennis tournament to be played at the Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, and Roddick said he was bothered by the shade covering half the court for the mid-afternoon match.
“It was tough playing out of the shadows and made it difficult to spot the ball,” Roddick said. “It was always going to be difficult coming from six weeks over the break. But regardless of this match, I have worked hard in the offseason and I am happy.”
Davydenko said he expected a tougher challenge in the semi-finals.
“Nadal takes all his games seriously,” he said. “As a left-hander, he is more difficult to play as his shots curve away from your backhand.”
Top-ranked Nadal and No. 2 Federer will both begin the ATP season by playing in the Qatar Open in Doha starting on Monday.
Murray, the defending champion, and Roddick are also playing in the tournament.