World No. 2 Roger Federer began his season in formidable fashion by defeating holder Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-4 to win the Qatar Open on Saturday.
The 16-times Grand Slam champion proved too much for his Russian opponent, claiming a break of serve in each set to complete victory under the floodlights at the Khalifa Tennis Complex in central Doha.
Federer has improved throughout his five matches this week in Qatar, where he did not drop a set, and sealed victory in 79 minutes when Davydenko netted an attempted backhand pass to huge cheers from a capacity crowd.
It was a 67th career title for the 29-year-old, who hardly broke a sweat on another warm evening in the Gulf emirate and celebrated victory with a brief smile amongst little celebration.
The Swiss served impeccably throughout, dropping just nine points on his serve as he demonstrated his solid form ahead of defending his title at the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne next Monday.
Davydenko, who brushed aside world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the previous round, struggled on the back foot during the first set as Federer moved him around the court at will with precision depth ground-strokes.
The Russian, ranked 22 in the world after slipping from a career high third, battled hard throughout, saving six break points in the first set and charging down every ball, but was always under pressure on his own serve.
“He played very well for sure, today was tough, he gave me ow chance on the return,” Davydenko told reporters. “I don’t want to say I played badly today, I played OK, but Federer didn’t give me a chance to realize my game. I don’t know if he can hold at this level for the whole year.”
The second set was on serve until the ninth game when Federer broke Davydenko to love before serving out with ease to claim his third Qatar Open title and collect the trophy, an elaborate golden eagle sat on a perch with a picture of the Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani on the base.
AFP, CHENNAI, INDIA
Stanislas Wawrinka upset top seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets to cruise into his second successive final at the US$450,000 Chennai Open on Saturday.
The 21st-ranked Swiss, seeded third, attacked from the start to take out world No. 6 Berdych 6-4, 6-1 in 76 minutes at the Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium.
Wawrinka, who lost to Marin Cilic in last year’s final, was to meet seventh-seeded Xavier Malisse of Belgium in yesterday’s title clash worth US$68,850 and 250 ATP points for the winner.
Malisse, a Chennai winner in 2007, recovered after losing the first set to knock out the sixth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in 97 minutes.
Wawrinka, who finished his rain-hit quarter-final against Robin Haase late on Friday night, showed no signs of fatigue as he outplayed his Czech rival before about 2,500 Indian fans.
Wawrinka broke Berdych in the fifth game to wrap up the first set in 38 minutes and then breezed through the second, losing just one game.
Malisse, who has lost just 10 games in three previous matches, made a shaky start as he allowed Tipsarevic to run away with the first set in 28 minutes.
An aggressive Malisse secured a break in the second game of the second set, but Tipsarevic hit back immediately by breaking the Belgian in the next game.
The Serbian clawed back from 15-40 in the sixth game to hold serve, but Malisse had his way in Tipsarevic’s next service game to take a 5-3 lead and go on to win the set.
The 60th-ranked Malisse broke No. 49 Tipsarevic twice in the decider to march into the final.
US Open champion Kim Clijsters dropped just three games in a warning to her Australian Open rivals in a confident start to the Sydney International tournament yesterday.
Third seed Clijsters crushed Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 6-1, 6-2 in 62 minutes and only lost six points on serve.
“Maybe not the fastest serves I’ve hit, but I was very focused on trying to place my serves well and just making a lot of serves, especially when you’re playing into the sun,” Clijsters said.
Clijsters opened the new season with a straight-sets win over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in an exhibition match in Thailand, but said she was intent on raising the bar higher in her first official outing of the season.
Clijsters, the bookmakers’ favorite to win this month’s Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, now faces either Russian Nadia Petrova or a qualifier for a place in the Sydney quarter-finals.
In yesterday’s only other main draw match, dual Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova put paid to Australian wildcard Jelena Dokic, 6-2, 6-2 in just more than an hour.
Russian Kuznetsova will take on either Australian fourth seed Samantha Stosur or Belgian Yanina Wickmayer in the second round.
AP, HOBART, AUSTRALIA
Italy’s Sara Errani has beaten 2007 champion Anna Chakvetadze of Russia 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in the first round of the Hobart International tennis tournament yesterday.
In other first-round results, Errani’s doubles partner Roberta Vinci defeated fellow Italian Romina Oprandi 7-6 (7/0), 6-3 and Ayumi Morita of Japan beat Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3).
Eighth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany defeated Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).
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