Battling Federer weathers storm to advance
World No 1 Roger Federer had to play three sets to reach the Qatar Open semi-finals yesterday, while No 2 Rafael Nadal had an easier ride when his opponent retired injured to put him in the last four.
Swiss Federer survived a scare from 21-year-old Latvian Ernests Gulbis before winning 6-2 4-6 6-4 to progress to the next round where he will face Russian third seed Nikolay Davydenko who beat big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic 7-6 7-6.
"I'm happy to have come through a tough outing. It was pretty hard towards the end. It looked more like Gulbis gave up rather than me earning the victory," Federer said.
"It's pretty cold out there. That affected my game to some extent and, at times, I just couldn't get going."
Nadal stayed on course for a showdown with the Swiss in the final when Belgium's Steve Darcis retired with an injured back when the Spaniard was leading 6-1 2-0 in their quarter-final.
Nadal will next play Serbia's Viktor Troicki who overcame Poland's Lukasz Kubot 4-6 6-4 7-6.
"This wasn't the way I wanted to reach the semi-finals. I feel sorry for Darcis and wish him a speedy recovery. I hope he plays in the Australian Open. When you know you aren't well, it's better to stop," said Nadal.
The Spaniard, however, was happy to be in the semi-finals without dropping a set and said he was back to his best after being plagued by knee and stomach injuries during 2009.
"When I was out of action, I was watching a lot of videos of top players to stay tuned to the game. I'm now ready to win as many tournaments as possible," he said.