Davydenko loses in straight sets

BALLSY PERFORMANCE: While the Russian crashed to defeat, Marc Gicquel's suffering was all the more real after he was felled by a 200kph serve that hit him in the groin


Sat, Jun 16, 2007 - Page 19

Nikolay Davydenko struggled again on grass on Thursday, losing to Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of the Gerry Weber Open.

The second-seeded Russian, who reached the semi-finals last week at the French Open, is 2-12 on grass. He has lost four times in the first round of Wimbledon in five years and has never won back-to-back matches on grass.

"My coach says for these four weeks on grass, just take a holiday," Davydenko said. "Otherwise I just get disappointed, frustrated."

Mayer, a 37th-ranked German, forced Davydenko out of his game with low, fast shots.

"He didn't hit winners," Davydenko said. "But after the ball was so low you have no chance to hit it back. What do you do?"

Mayer, who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2004, was due to face Marcos Baghdatis yesterday in the quarter-finals. The eighth-seeded Baghdatis came back from a break down in the final two sets to beat Robin Soderling 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-3.

"First set, he served very, very well," Baghdatis said. "The second set he broke me and then I just tried to focus on a corner, like a penalty in soccer."

A double-fault by the 28th-ranked Soderling handed Baghdatis a decisive break in the fifth game of the final set.

The 18-ranked Cypriot reached last year's Australian Open final and Wimbledon semi-finals.

"For sure, this time I want to do better and win the title at Wimbledon -- that's my goal," Baghdatis said. "Now I play good on grass. I played on it a couple of times as a junior and was really bad."

Baghdatis fell four times on the slippery grass of center court. He even cut his knee, but said it did not affect his play.

Sixth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny pulled out on Thursday with a back injury, giving Tomas Berdych a spot in the semi-finals.

"I really would like to have won the title here at the Gerry Weber Open," Youzhny said. "This is too bad for the tournament here in Halle."

Berdych, Baghdatis and James Blake are the favorites following the withdrawal of Roger Federer, the four-time champion who lost to Rafael Nadal last week in the French Open final.

"I'm definitely a favorite now, but there are many good players," Baghdatis said. "Your really have to concentrate. Two or three stupid mistakes and a break and you are out."

Jarkko Nieminen beat lucky loser Andrei Pavel, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1. The Romanian got into the field when Federer withdrew.

In the quarter-finals, Nieminen was due to face Marc Gicquel, who beat Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-2, 7-6 (5).

Meanwhile Frenchman Marc Gicquel went on to win his second-round tie despite receiving a serve -- traveling at 208kph -- in the testicles.

The 30-year-old was in the second set of his match against German Benjamin Becker when he was felled by the serve which scored a bulls-eye straight into his delicate area.

With the speed-gun showing the serve was 208 km/h, the game was stopped for ten minutes while the Frenchman had ice applied, discreetly, to his wedding tackle -- in front of a 8,000-strong crowd.

In a show of brotherly solidarity, Becker went over to his pole-axed opponent to pass on his deepest -- and heart-felt -- sympathy.

Having won the first set 6-2, Gicquel won the second set on a tie-breaker in what can only be described as a truly ballsy performance, which handed him a spot in the quarter-finals for his efforts.