Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia during their Qatar Open men's singles tennis match in Doha, Qatar January 7, 2016. Ibraheem Al Omari / Reuters
Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia during their Qatar Open men's singles tennis match in Doha, Qatar January 7, 2016. Ibraheem Al Omari / Reuters

Tennis round-up: Nadal sets up Qatar semi-final against surprise package Marchenko



Qatar Open

Despite being broken four times, Rafael Nadal managed to make his way into the Qatar Open semi-finals by beating Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 Thursday.

Nadal lost his serve on all four break points he faced against the 79th-ranked Kuznetsov. The second-seeded Spaniard broke his opponent’s serve five times in 10 attempts.

Nadal will next play Illya Marchenko in the semifinals. The Ukrainian, who beat David Ferrer in the first round, defeated seventh-seeded Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 7-6.

Rank outsider Marchenko continued his remarkable run at the Qatar Open on Thursday overcoming injury and France’s Chardy to qualify for the semi-finals.

The world-ranked No 94, who knocked defending champion David Ferrer out in the first round, won in straight sets 6-3, 7-6. Chardy is ranked No 31 in the world.

Marchenko, 28, triumphed despite calling for two medical timeouts in the second set and receiving treatment on court from a physio for a back problem.

“My back didn’t work so well tonight,” said the Ukrainian afterwards. “I hope I am going to be better tomorrow.”

Marchenko, who also beat world No 50 Teymuraz Gabashvili in the second round, faces the winner of the Nadal versus Andrey Kuznetsov quarter-final, being played later Thursday.

Before beating Ferrer, the world No 7, in three sets on Monday, Marchenko had never beaten or taken a set from a top 10-ranked player.

Men’s singles

Quarter-finals

Illya Marchenko (UKR) bt Jeremy Chardy (FRA x7) 6-3, 7-6

Rafael Nadal (ESP) bt Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4

Brisbane International

Top seed Roger Federer barely broke a sweat as he breezed past German qualifier Tobias Kamke 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of the Brisbane International on Thursday.

Federer, who had a first-round bye, took just 55 minutes to see off Kamke, playing in the main draw of an ATP tournament for the first time since April.

The Swiss had been suffering from the flu earlier in the week but showed no signs of illness in a commanding performance at the Pat Rafter Arena.

He asked organisers to put his first match back a day, and said he only started to feel better on Wednesday morning.

The defending champion smashed 18 winners past Kamke, who struggled from the outset against the world No 3 and only had one break point on Federer’s serve throughout the match.

Federer will next meet Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals, a rematch from last year’s semi-final, which Federer won comfortably.

“I played great against him last year here,” Federer said.

“Tomorrow is going to be tougher. It’s been a rocky last couple of days and I don’t quite know what to expect quite yet.

“Today was thankfully short, but it also doesn’t give me as much information as where my game is at.

“In practice it’s been great; I have been hitting the ball well. I am where I want to be.

“Tomorrow we’ll see. He’s (Dimitrov) had a tough grind today, but he’s extremely match-tough. I expect him to be fresh again tomorrow. I played him quite aggressive last year and that worked well. We’ll see if I’ll do the same again tomorrow.”

Dimitrov earlier survived a three-set epic against Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.

“I think I was definitely struggling a little bit at the beginning of the match,” he said.

“But it was good. It was a good match for me. That’s how I see it.

“And I’m happy that after two hours, 45 minutes my body felt really well. I took the heat pretty good.”

Fourth seeded Canadian Milos Raonic was pushed all the way by Croatian qualifier Ivan Dodig before eventually winning 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 in almost two-and-a-half hours.

Raonic, who reached a career ranking of four last May, dropped back to 14 after injury problems later in the year saw him withdraw from the French Open then miss the last three weeks of the season.

He said he was finally playing injury free for the first time in nine months.

“I’m further along than where I was (last year),” he said.

“I think I just sort of need matches like today to sort of reset myself.”

Raonic next takes on Lucas Pouille after the Frenchman ousted sixth seeded Belgian David Goffin 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.

Men

Second round

Lucas Pouille (FRA) bt David Goffin (BEL x6) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) bt Viktor Troicki (SRB) 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-2

Milos Raonic (CAN x4) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 6-7 (2/7), 6-1, 6-4

Roger Federer (SUI x1) bt Tobias Kamke (GER) 6-2, 6-1

Women

Quarter-finals

Angelique Kerber (GER x4) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-4, 6-4

Samantha Crawford (USA) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-3, 6-0

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Roberta Vinci

Auckland Open

Former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki trounced Alexandra Dulgheru for the loss of just one game to reach the WTA Auckland Classic semi-finals on Thursday.

The third seed, who has not dropped a set all week, took only 52 minutes to overwhelm Romania’s Dulgheru 6-1, 6-0 and set up a last-four clash with American Sloane Stephens.

The second semi-final will be between Germany’s Julia Goerges and qualifier Tamira Paszek from Austria, whose head-to-head record is 2-2.

They benefited from being in the same half of the draw as the top two seeds, Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic, who were first-round casualties.

Paszek, ranked 172nd in the world, survived a three-hour marathon quarter-final against Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium, finally winning 6-4, 6-7, 6-3.

Flipkens was down 1-4 in the second set before winning it on a tie-break, and she recovered from 0-5 to 3-5 in the final set before Paszek got over the line.

“I’m delighted that I was strong enough mentally to focus and deal with the setbacks and actually close out the match,” said Paszek, 25.

Goerges also came through a three-set quarter-final when she came from behind to beat Japan’s Nao Hibino 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.

Stephens, the fifth seed, ended the run of popular Briton Naomi Broady, who conquered second seed Ivanovic in the first round.

Broady hinted at another shock when she took the first set to a tiebreak. But Stephens clicked into gear to reach the semis 7-6, 6-3.

Quarter-finals

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x3) bt Alexandra Dulgheru (ROM) 6-1, 6-0

Sloane Stephens (USA x5) bt Naomi Broady (GBR) 7-6 (8/6), 6-3

Julia Goerges (GER) bt Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-4

Tamira Paszek (AUT) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3

Shenzhen Open

Top seed Agnieszka Radwanska strolled into the semi-finals of the WTA Shenzhen Open in straight sets on Wednesday, the only seed left in the US$500,000 (Dh1.8 million) tournament.

Radwanska, the world No 5 and winner of the WTA Finals in Singapore in November, disposed of her second home opponent in as many days, defeating Wang Qiang 6-3, 6-2 in little over an hour.

But Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, the No 6 seed, went out at the hands of Timea Babos of Hungary, 6-4, 6-4.

The tournament in the southern Chinese boom town neighbouring Hong Kong has been littered with surprises and early exits, some of them to illness or injury.

But Radwanska will now be an even hotter favourite, as world No 70 Babos, whom she will meet in Saturday’s final if they both win their semis, is her highest-ranked remaining rival.

Women’s singles

Quarter-finals

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x1) bt Wang Qiang (CHN) 6-3, 6-2

Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) bt Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-4, 2-6, 6-1

Timea Babos (HUN) bt Eugenie Bouchard (CAN x6) 6-4, 6-4

Alison Riske (USA) bt Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3

Hopman Cup

Ukraine advanced to their second Hopman Cup final with a 2-1 win over Australia Gold in Perth on Thursday.

The home team needed to win the tie to stay alive, but Ukraine claimed both singles matches to ensure they finished their round robin phase unbeaten in three ties.

The Australian combination of Lleyton Hewitt and Jarmila Wolfe won the dead mixed-doubles rubber in a match tiebreak.

The pairing of Alexandr Dolgopolov and Elina Svitolina, who have both won all their singles matches this week, will play in Saturday’s final.

Ukraine’s previous appearance at the Hopman Cup was back in 1995, when siblings Andrei Medvedev and Natalia Medvedeva reached the final.

They were beaten 3-0 in the decider by the German pairing of Boris Becker and Anke Huber.

After Svitolina gave Ukraine the early advantage with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Wolfe, Dolgopolov came from a set down to beat Hewitt and put them into the final.

Dolgopolov said his form was not as good as in his previous two singles wins, but he knew he needed to eke out a win over Hewitt.

“Today was a tough match, he’s not easy to play, and it was not easy to come back,” he said.

“I didn’t want to go to third match at 1-1, we’d lost both our mixed doubles and we needed to win this match.

“It means a lot, I get a bit more nervous (playing for Ukraine) than in my own tournaments, and the whole country is watching.

“There is just one match left now and that’s the final.”

Results from the mixed-teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Thursday:

Round robin - Group A

United States bt Czech Republic 2-1

Men’s singles: Jack Sock (USA) bt Jiri Vesely (CZE) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3)

Women’s singles: Karolina Pliskova (CZE) bt Vicky Duval (USA) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4

Mixed doubles: Duval/Sock (USA) bt Pliskova/Vesely (CZE) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Ukraine bt Australia Gold 2-1

Women’s singles: Elina Svitolina (UKR) bt Jarmila Wolfe (AUS) 6-3, 6-3

Men’s singles: Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) bt Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)

4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Mixed doubles: Wolfe/Hewitt (AUS) bt Svitolina/Dolgopolov (UKR) 3-6, 7-5, 10-5 (match tiebreak)

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