DUBAI: Juan Martin del Potro saved three match points yesterday to get past Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) at the Dubai Championships, while Nikolay Davydenko upset ninth-ranked Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets.
Del Potro, who reached the quarterfinals in Marseille and won his 14th title the week before in Rotterdam, appeared sluggish early, handing the first set to Baghdatis when he hit one of his three double faults. But the 2009 US Open champion served better in the second, and broke Baghdatis to go up 3-2. The two traded breaks in the third and Del Potro won it when the Cypriot hit a forehand into the net after a short rally.
“I was fighting every time of the match,” Del Potro said. “He’s a great player. He fights like me every point, and we made fantastic rallies. The crowd was enjoying the game. I’m so glad to beat him tonight in Dubai.” Del Potro said his left wrist is still bothering him, having missed most of 2010 after having surgery on it and still struggling to return to the top.
“I’m trying to keep focus on this tournament because it’s very important,” Del Potro said. “And then to come for Indian Wells and Miami, I need good results here.” In other matches, sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych made easy work of American wild-card entry Rajeev Ram, beating him 6-1, 6-3. Australian Bernard Tomic withdrew from his match against Romanian Victor Hanescu after falling behind 3-2 in the first set.
Davydenko, who reached the Qatar Open final in January, overwhelmed Tipsarevic 6-0, 7-5. It was the third tournament in a row that the Serb had lost his opening match after he injured his heel at the Australian Open.
The big-hitting Tipsarevic had trouble with his serve all match, committing six double faults and finishing with a first serve percentage of only 49 percent.
The 46th-ranked Davydenko said it was clear Tipsarevic isn’t playing at this best.
“Maybe he doesn’t have the confidence after the Australian Open,” the Russian said. “After his injury, he tried to come back. (His) game is good but is not enough now. Maybe he will feel better in America.”
Querrey advances at Delray Beach
In Delray Beach, Florida, third-seeded Sam Querrey moved into the second round of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships when fellow American Michael Russell retired with a left leg injury while trailing 6-2, 2-2 Monday.
Besides for having to save one break point in the fourth game of the first set, Querrey played confident tennis throughout the 44 minutes he was on the court, while Russell had the trainer out to work on his leg in the first set.
“I thought that was the best attitude I’ve had all year,” Querrey said. “It’s the most aggressive I’ve been all year.
“I was hitting second serve returns and taking cracks at them, and dominating with my forehand. It felt great.” The biggest upset came from 62nd-ranked Ivan Dodig of Croatia, who beat fifth-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine 6-3, 6-3.
Dolgopolov, who reached the Memphis quarterfinals last week, initially led 3-0 in the match.
From there, Dodig, a quarterfinalist here in 2011, reeled off nine straight games for a 6-3, 3-0 lead in the 57-minute match.
“It was a little bit strange. Coming from indoor to first tournament outdoor, every player is struggling a bit.
“First few games I was struggling, but I know he’s had some problems with his back.” Eighth-seeded Xavier Malisse of Belgium, a two-time past champion here, won his first-round match over Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-3, 6-3.
The 50th-ranked Malisse, who has reached the quarterfinals at the Auckland and San Jose tournaments this year, has beaten the 59th-ranked Falla all four times they’ve played.
Malisse has a 26-10 record at this tournament.
The 109th-ranked Ernests Gulbis of Latvia is the 2010 Delray Beach champion. This year, Gulbis has had to come through qualifying to reach the main draw this year.
Gulbis defeated Denys Molchanov of the Ukraine 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4 to qualify on Monday.