ABU DHABI // The Capitala World Tennis Championship got off to a tremendous start in Abu Dhabi on Thursday and promises to go from strength to strength over the next few years. Greg Sproule, a spokesman for the event organisers IMG, declared that the tournament is here to stay. "It will take place annually," he said as he welcomed six of the world's top six players to the UAE capital's tennis centre in Zayed Sports City.
Two of those players - the Americans Andy Roddick and James Blake - are left with only practice matches to contemplate for the rest of their stay here after coming out on the wrong side of the opening two encounters. Those respective matches were won by Russia's Nikolay Davydenko and, more impressively, Britain's Andy Murray. They earned the right to take on Rafael Nadal, the world No 1, and Roger Federer, who ruled the world for most of the previous five years, in today's semi-finals.
Murray, who famously defeated Federer in the first round of the Dubai Championship 10 months ago, will not lack confidence in his rematch with the Swiss maestro after ruthlessly dismissing the challenge of Blake in only 56 one-sided minutes. The Scot, who lost to Federer in last year's US Open final, thrashed Blake 6-2, 6-2 to serve notice that he aims to go one better in his next grand slam, this month's Australian Open.
Davydenko had to work a little harder to overcome Roddick in yesterday's opening match but the Russian always looked in command and went through 6-4, 6-4. firstname.lastname@example.org