Novak Djokovic repelled a determined challenge from Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez as he continued the defense of his Dubai championships title with a three-set win on Wednesday.
Top seed Roger Federer had no such difficulties against Spaniard Marcel Granollers, winning 6-3, 6-4 with a flurry of spectacular winners to reach the quarter-finals.
Second seed Djokovic won 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, but the outcome hung in the balance until the final few minutes as Lopez, who reached the final in 2004 and 2008, tormented Djokovic with a varied and aggressive game.
Serb Djokovic took the opening set with just one break of serve, leading 3-1 when Lopez double-faulted, but he was quickly in trouble in the second.
Lopez broke to love in the second game and Djokovic was unable to respond as his opponent made frequent approaches to the net and showed greater persistence and accuracy.
A further break for 6-2 closed out the set, but Djokovic began strongly in the third, showing more aggression as he forced a forehand error to break for 1-0.
Lopez levelled at 3-3, but Djokovic regained the advantage on his third break point in the next game and that proved decisive.
Eighth-seeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis lost 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 to Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine and third seed Czech Tomas Berdych -defeated Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 7-6.
Also through to the last eight are Richard Gasquet, a 6-2, 7-5 winner over Sergei Bubka, Florian Mayer, who dismissed Andrey Golubev 6-3, 6-4, Gilles Simon, who defeated Lukas Rosol 6-2, 6-3, and Philipp Petzschner, who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.
Women’s world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki moved into the -quarter-finals of the Qatar Open with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Russian Nadia Petrova, but third seed Francesca Schiavone was upset by China’s Peng Shuai 7-5, 6-3 on Wednesday.
Second seed Vera Zvonareva also secured a spot in the last eight with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, while fifth seed and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia thrashed India’s Sania Mirza 6-0 6-1.
Li Na, who beat Wozniacki to reach the final of the Australia Open last month, was upset 6-2, 6-1 by Czech Klara Zakopalova, while France’s Marion Bartoli cruised past Israel’s Shahar Peer 6-1, 6-0.
AFP, DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA
Qualifier Ryan Sweeting upset third seed Sam Querrey 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the US$442,500 ATP Delray Beach International Championships.
Sweeting won six of the last seven points, denying Querrey’s fightback bid in the final game. Sweeting fell behind 0-40, but saved three break points, then rescued another with a second-serve ace before winning on his only match point.
Sweeting, ranked 118th, advanced to a match today against Japan’s 66th-ranked Kei Nishikori who breezed past US wild card James Blake 6-3, 6-4.
Nishikori’s only ATP crown came at Delray Beach in 2008.
French eighth seed Adrian Mannarino advanced to the second round by rallying to defeat Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 1-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.
Mannarino will next face Colombian qualifier Alejandro Falla and could meet US second seed Mardy Fish in the quarter-finals. Fish is the highest-ranked player in the field after US top seed Andy Roddick withdrew due to illness.
In the night match, sixth seeded Janko Tipsarevic outlasted Blaz Kavcic 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 6-3.