Nadal joins Tsonga in Doha last eight

Wed, 04 Jan 17:01:00 2012

Rafael Nadal outclassed Denis Gremelmayr 6-2 6-2 to ease into the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open in Doha.

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany during the ATP Qatar Open tennis tournament in Doha - 0

The world number two dropped a set before overcoming Philipp Kohlschreiber on Tuesday, but looked to be close to the peak of his powers in despatching German Gremelmayr, who fought gamely without ever threatening to upset Nadal in 89 minutes.

Nadal will face Mikhail Youzhny in the quarter-finals after he overcame Ivo Karlovic 6-2 6-7(3) 6-3 in the second round.

Gremelmayr 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.

"The conditions weren't easy, you try to move your legs at the last moment," said Nadal.

"I didn't have a chance to practise a lot in the off-season, not as much as I would have liked. These matches are really important and the best practice I can have."

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.

Nadal seemed determined to avoid another long match after taking more than two-and-a-half hours to defeat Kohlschreiber, with the schedule offering no rest days for the top seeds.

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 world number two took it with a thumping forehand that 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 the 10-times Grand Slam winner showed no mercy to his beleaguered opponent and raced into a 4-0 lead before serving out the set.

Third-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga used his Qatar Open second-round clash with Italian outsider Flavio Cipolla as a chance to experiment with serve and volley and the tactic worked well enough to earn the Frenchman a 7-6(8) 6-3 victory.

Tsonga battered down consecutive aces and well as ferocious ground shots to hold his own serve in the early games but once he had a foothold he became more adventurous in his bid to give him the tools needed to win his first Grand Slam title.

"I'm trying to find something to play against the big four," he said. "I try to improve my game. I need something different than them to be better. I will try to go to the net more."

On court in Doha, the world number six also appeared troubled by the swirling wind, gesticulating to the sky after hitting a wide backhand in one game and gifting his opponent two points with sliced backhands into the net in the next.

He compounded those errors with shanked forehands that sailed high to give Cipolla, 28, the game and a 4-3 lead.

The Italian then held serve to love, a feat Tsonga matched to make it 5-4, with Cipolla now serving for the set.

He blew his chance though as Tsonga broke back immediately before winning an enthralling tiebreak 10-8 after Cipolla twice failed to convert set points.

Tsonga broke immediately in the second set, rushing to the net to play a drop shot a despairing Cipolla could only scoop wide and the Frenchman made it a double break to take a 4-1 lead en route to the straight-sets win.

Fourth seed Gael Monfils overcame Benjamin Becker 7-5 4-6 7-5 in a marathon encounter.

The lanky Frenchman, who has slipped to 16th in the world from seventh in September, squandered two match points before overcoming the German.

Monfils took nine attempts to bag the first set, eventually winning it with an audacious curling lob.

ATP Doha - 2nd round

Eurosport / Reuters

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