Davydenko reaches Qatar Open quarters

Updated 02 January 2013

Davydenko reaches Qatar Open quarters

DOHA: Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko upset fourth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny, beating his countryman 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Qatar Open quarterfinals yesterday.
Once ranked as high as No. 3, Davydenko has struggled in recent years because of injuries. But he looked like his old self in Doha, with a consistent first serve and aggressive play to unnerve the 25th-ranked Youzhny.
Davydenko broke Youzhny to go up 6-5 in the first set, then clinched the set when Youzhny hit a forehand into the net. At 2-2 in the second, Davydenko won three straight games to take control.
David Ferrer started the new season with a dropped first set to Dustin Brown, a qualifier outside the world’s top 150, and a damaged court, which opened like a crater on the moon.
Repairs appeared to involve tape and glue on a tear about five feet behind the baseline where Ferrer’s heel had ripped into the surface.
There was also an anxious-looking conference and a ball boys’ impromptu Gangnam-style dance session on the playing area during a delay, which lasted more than an hour.
It was eventually two and a half hours before the world No. 5 from Spain survived his first round in the Qatar Open by 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 against Brown who is a tall, Jamaica-based German nicknamed “Dreddy,” with impressive locks flying down to the small of his back.
“None of it was easy,” said Ferrer, which was an understatement. Brown was unusual for his aggressive serving, eager forward movement, and willingness to volley, and other circumstances must have seemed to Ferrer bizarrely familiar.
Two years ago he and Andy Roddock were forced off their court at the US Open by a crack near the baseline, which let the water through, and required them to change courts, and last year at New York a tornado forced Ferrer and Novak Djokovic to interrupt their semifinal by an entire day.
Roddick tweeted a solution for Doha, suggesting they should “move Ferrer to court 13” — the court number where the American completed his 2011 US Open win over the Spaniard. Ferrer chortled his laughter when he heard.
Later Ferrer commented on the oddities which had afflicted him in the last two years by saying: “Yeah — so many things, yeah. Too many things.” Asked if something were following him around, he said: “Something, yes — it’s bad luck. I don’t even know why.” This time Ferrer had a more fortunate resumption. Though a set down he broke Brown’s serve at once, and consolidated that advantage right through the second set.
He then making another crucial break at the start of the third set, by which time the favorite was accelerating toward safety.
The seedings say that Ferrer should play a final on Saturday with Richard Gasquet, the world No. 10 from France, whose fluency appeared only intermittently during a 6-3, 6-4 over Jan Hernych, a 33-year-old Czech qualifier.
Hernych struck his ground strokes more often inside the baseline than Gasquet — often a sign of potential dominance — but missed with three of his four break point chances.

Gasquet’s confidence improved markedly after breaking serve at the start of the second set and never looked like being pegged back, dropping only five points in his next five service games.
He could have a semi-final with his compatriot Gael Monfils, last year’s runner-up, whose first match in two and a half months was a comfortable re-introduction, a 6-0, 6-3 win over the local wild card player, Mousa Shanan Zayed.
However, Monfils’ next encounter is a potentially tough one, against Philipp Kohlschreiber, the third-seeded German.
He may also be mindful of the fate of another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy, the fifth seed but a 6-4, 6-4 loser to a German qualifier, Daniel Brands.

What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

Updated 36 min 50 sec ago

What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

  • Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
  • Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.

Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.



Finished: Champions

Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.

Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.

Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League



Finished: Second

Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.

Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.

Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.


Finished: Third

Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.

Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.

Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into  the 2019 AFC Champions League.



Finished: Ninth

Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.

Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.

Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.