Top-seeded David Ferrer was sensationally denied a place in the final of the Qatar Open on Friday by forgotten man Nikolay Davydenko.
The 31-year-old Russian, without a win over a top 10 player in 15 attempts, and without an appearance in a final for 21 months, clinched a stunning 6-2, 6-3 win over one of the tour’s most tenacious players.
Davydenko beat the Spaniard with a bullying brilliance which reminded people a little of the successive victories he produced over Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal when he captured the title in Doha three years ago.
Since then Davydenko has been hit by injuries, loss of form, and even loss of direction, sinking to an eight-year low of world No. 50 last year. He is still outside the top 40.
He showed how keen he is to make good his ambition for one last bid to regain a top-20 place, smacking the ball hard and flat, striking it early, and taking cleverly judged risks in coming to the net.
“I didn’t have a chance against that,” Ferrer said. “He was just better than me in every way. He served better, he hit the ball better, and he played really well.”
Ferrer hung on to his opening service game, but then was allowed only one of the next 16 points, without ever really playing badly.
He managed to fight his way back from 0-40 to rescue his service game for 2-3, but it did little to stem the tide. Davydenko broke again for 5-2, closed out the set quickly, and continued to look dangerous in the second set.
Sure enough from 3-3 the Ukraine-born Muscovite hit another hot streak with his battering ground strokes and bold forward moves. He took 14 of the next 16 points, eyes bulging, feet flying and racket flashing.
“I have waited a long time for when I would reach a final again,” Davydenko said. “This a very good result for me, but I must go step by step.”
“I still have to get fitter, that is the key. If I do, then I don’t lose concentration, and if I can do that I can control everything and the tennis seems easy,” he said. “I can play faster and then I feel I can beat anyone. And that will be the key in the final.”
That will be against the second-seeded Richard Gasquet who overcame Germany’s Daniel Brands 7-5, 7-5.
AFP, CHENNAI, India
Top seed Tomas Berdych crashed out of the ATP Chennai Open on Friday on a night of dramatic upsets that saw third seed Marin Cilic and fourth seed Stanislas Wawrinka also bow out.
Berdych, the world No. 6 from the Czech Republic, was stunned by the 80th-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, who won 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to storm into his first ATP semi-final.
“This is of course my biggest win on the tour,” said Agut, who was playing in only his second ATP quarter-final. “I am happy to make such a good start in the first week of the season.”
Agut’s semi-final opponent will be 47th-ranked Benoit Paire of France, who knocked out world No. 15 Cilic 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 earlier on Friday.
Paire, who had never beaten a top-20 player before, said he was looking forward to the semi-final.
“There are no easy matches on the circuit, especially a semi-final,” he said. “I have to prepare well for it.”
Wawrinka was waylaid by 23-year-old Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, who advanced to his maiden ATP semi-final with a 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) win in an hour and 31 minutes.
The 86th-ranked Bedene will clash with world No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia for a place in the final.
Second seed Tipsarevic, the only survivor among the top four pre-tournament favorites, swept aside eighth seed Go Soeda of Japan 6-2, 6-4.
Tipsarevic, who lost last year’s Chennai final to Canada’s Milos Raonic, said he was satisfied with his match against Soeda.
“I think I served good and also returned well,” he said. “To lose just six games in the whole match means I played well, but one has to keep improving all the time and that is my aim.”