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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Djokovic to defend Dubai title against Federer

Posted: 25 Feb 2011 04:22 PM PST

"Worst performance", but Novak Djokovic wins through February 25, 2011, for a shot at a third successive Dubai Tennis Championships. — Reuters pic

DUBAI, Feb 26 — Defending champion Novak Djokovic will face top seed and four-times former champion Roger Federer in the final of the Dubai championships after a dramatic victory over Tomas Berdych yesterday.

The Australian Open winner struggled before overcoming the third-seeded Czech, who retired injured with Djokovic leading 6-7, 6-2, 4-2. Federer defeated unseeded Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5 after the Frenchman had served for the second set at 5-3.

Djokovic and Berdych were evenly matched in the opening set with neither earning a break point in the first 11 games. Djokovic then saved two set points at 6-5 but lost the tiebreak 7-5 on Berdych's fifth set point.

The Serbian second seed, who is seeking his third successive Dubai title, had looked sluggish in the first set. But he offered more of a threat in the second, holding a break point for 2-0 and breaking for 3-1 when Berdych netted a backhand.

Both players saved break points in the next two games but Djokovic broke again for the set before Berdych called for the trainer and had his left thigh massaged.

Games went quickly in the final set as both players held serve comfortably until Djokovic broke to lead 4-3. Berdych lost the next two points before retiring.

"The problem was my left quadriceps," he told reporters. "I was not able just to serve, move to the sides. It's no chance to just play this guy in the condition that I was feeling."

Djokovic was upset with his performance.

"I don't know how to explain today's match really. In one word, catastrophe," he said.

Worst match

"I think the match overall and my game, it was the worst match this year for me, worst performance. But I managed to get a win, so I guess that's what matters.

"I hate it when I play this way, but I was still trying to fight within myself and try to stay focussed and at least hold serve."

Federer had no such misgivings about his display against Gasquet.

The Swiss was threatened briefly when Gasquet broke to lead 5-3 in the second set but Gasquet then won just four more points in the match. He failed to serve out the set when he attempted a soft drop shot that fell short on break point, and then netted a forehand to give Federer a further break for 6-5.

"I was very happy about my performance from the start," said Federer. "I felt I was hitting the ball well. He's been playing well here and to play him in the later stages of a tournament, I think, always makes him somewhat more dangerous just because he's found the groove.

"I thought tonight I played the right way. Obviously should have gone or could have gone three sets, but I was able to avoid that. Then he had a bit of a slump towards the end, which I was able to take advantage of." — Reuters


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Watson, Kuchar, Donald and Yang reach last eight

Posted: 25 Feb 2011 04:07 PM PST

MARANA, Arizona, Feb 26 — Long-hitting American Bubba Watson became the first player to reach the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship after crushing Australian Geoff Ogilvy 6 and 4 yesterday.

Soon after, Matt Kuchar beat fellow American Rickie Fowler 2 and 1 in the third round and South Korean Yang Yong-eun then won 3 and 2 against US Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.

British world No. 9 Luke Donald ended the fairytale run of teenager Matteo Manassero, beating the Italian 3 and 2, while pony-tailed Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez hammered American Ben Crane 7 and 6.

In the penultimate match of the day, German world No. 2 Martin Kaymer came from two down after two holes to beat American Hunter Mahan 2 and 1 in a closely fought encounter.

Watson, making his debut in the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event, charged three up on Ogilvy after just three holes before sealing victory at the par-four 14th.

Ogilvy, a double Match Play champion, conceded the match to his opponent after taking three shots to reach the 14th green on a sun-baked afternoon at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

Watson, who was effectively eight under par for the first 13 holes, had struck a superb approach there to just under four feet.

"I hit a lot of good putts, a lot of good iron shots," Watson told reporters after booking a place in the last eight against compatriot J.B. Holmes, who beat Australian Jason Day one up.

"I haven't missed that many fairways, probably no more than five all three days. So it's been good so far, and I've won every time."

Never trailed

Kuchar never trailed in his match against U.S. Ryder Cup teammate Fowler, going three up after 12 holes before clinching the win at the par-four 17th.

Fowler had reached the third round with a crushing 6 and 5 victory over world No. 5 Phil Mickelson but the 22-year-old ran out of steam against the rock-steady Kuchar.

"I think I'm lucky I didn't run into him yesterday," a smiling Kuchar said. "It sounded like yesterday he was on fire and would have cleaned me out."

Yang took control against McDowell with three birdies in the first four holes and held off a late fightback by his opponent before ending the match with a chip-in for birdie at the par-three 16th.

"It feels great to win over Graeme," said Yang, who overhauled Tiger Woods to claim his first major title at the 2009 PGA Championship. "I think my overall condition is good, and just because I won today, my condition feels better." — Reuters


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