[QODLink]
Tennis
Fed and Nadal ease into Qatar quarters
Top seeds keep on course for a finals showdown with easy wins in the ATP season-opener in Doha.
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2012 21:40
Federer, continuing his fine run of form, next faces Italian eighth seed Andreas Seppi [EPA]

Roger Federer extended his winning run to 19 matches with an easy victory at the Qatar Open on Wednesday while longtime rival Rafael Nadal was equally impressive as both eased into the quarter-finals.

Federer, seeded second, routed Slovenia's Grega Zemlja 6-2 6-3 in an hour, dropping just 11 points in nine service games.

"I'm happy to come through matches easily at the beginning of the season, because it can be tricky when you enter the first tournament and right away you play an incredibly tough three setter," Federer said in a post-match news conference.

Top seed Nadal, who took two and a half hours to battle past first-round opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber on Tuesday, was more assured against qualifier Denis Gremelmayr as he strolled to a 6-2 6-2 win.

The unfancied German had won a solitary game in their only previous meeting and fared little better in windy Doha, Nadal pounding his fellow left-hander from the outset.

Like Federer, Nadal is looking to reclaim the world number one spot from Novak Djokovic.

Preparation

The Qatar tournament is seen by both players as important preparation for this month's Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the season, and the Spaniard has changed his approach to try to recapture top form.

"I think I hit good forehands," said Nadal.

"I went to the net a lot of times, that's important. It's something we are trying to do more often.

"I'm trying to return a little bit better, because for me the worst thing that I did last year was the return, especially the second half of the year. My return was worse than usual."

Little sign of Nadal's niggling shoulder injury [EPA]

Nadal had been troubled by a shoulder injury for several weeks but there was little sign of this as Gremelmayr, ranked 189 in the world, was forced to save a break point in the opening game.

The German lost his next service game, a poor forehand into the net putting Nadal 2-1 ahead and a break up.

Serving at 1-3 down, Gremelmayr saved three break points in a game of seven deuces, but the 30-year-old then stabbed a forehand passing shot into the net to give Nadal a fourth opportunity.

The 10-times Grand Slam winner took it with a thumping forehand the despairing German could only shovel into the net for a double break and a 4-1 lead.

The second set was similar, Nadal breaking immediately as he raced into a 4-0 lead before serving out the set.

Tsonga through

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, seeded third, also won, but found it harder going.

The Frenchman came from a break down and also saved two set points in a first set tiebreak against Flavio Cipolla, eventually defeating the Italian outsider 7-6 6-3 as he tried a new serve and volley approach he hopes can win him his first Grand Slam.

"My goal is to win against the best players in the world," Tsonga said afterwards.

"To beat these guys you need to have something different.

They all have: Rafa runs a lot, plays with a lot of spin, Roger takes the ball early, Novak too. Andy Murray is an incredible defender and his passing shots are just amazing.

"You need something different to be the best player on court and I think my way is to be really offensive, to play my serve and also volley too."

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list