Nadal holds on; Murray falls in Qatar

Updated: January 1, 2014

Doha, Qatar ( – World No. 1 superstar Rafael Nadal barely
won his second-round match, while two-time champion Andy Murray went by way
of an upset Wednesday at the $1 million Qatar Open.

The reigning U.S. and French Open titlist Nadal was tested mightily before
sneaking past German Tobias Kamke 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 in 2 hours, 25 minutes
on Day 3. Nadal broke Kamke’s serve three times, while the German could manage
only one break in the hard-fought loss.

The 2010 Doha runner-up Nadal’s quarterfinal opponent on Thursday will be
dangerous Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

Meanwhile, capable German Florian Mayer rung in the new year by coming back to
stun the third-seeded British star Murray 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in 1 hour, 52 minutes
on the hardcourts at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.

Mayer overcame a one-set and 0-3 deficit in order to erase Murray.

“To be honest, in my mind, the match was finished at 3-6, 0-3,” said Mayer.
“But I tried to play more aggressively, tried to risk something more. Of
course for sure he didn’t play his best tennis.

“I knew before the match if I would have a chance, it’s probably today. He
didn’t play for a long time. So I took my chance.”

Murray returned to action for the first time in three-and-a-half months with
an easy 37-minute 6-0, 6-0 win here on Tuesday, but Mayer posed a much bigger
problem than helpless Qatari wild card Mousa Shanan Zayed did on Day 2.

The Wimbledon titlist and 2008 and 2009 Doha winner Murray underwent minor
back surgery last season and hadn’t played anywhere since mid-September.

Another surprising upset by a German came when Daniel Brands vanquished
second-seeded French Open runner-up David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5, while Gael Monfils
popped nine aces and broke serve four times in eliminating defending Doha
champ and fifth-seeded fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5. Gasquet
defeated Russian and 2010 champion Nikolay Davydenko in last year’s finale.

Also in Doha, Peter Gojowczyk upended sixth-seeded fellow German Philipp
Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (9-7); a seventh-seeded Gulbis held off Poland’s
Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 4-6, 6-3; Romanian Victor Hanescu knocked out eighth-seeded
Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 7-6 (7-0), 6-2; and German qualifier Dustin
Brown withstood 22 aces in outlasting 6-foot-10 Croat Ivo Karlovic 3-6, 7-6
(15-13), 6-4 at this Australian Open tune-up.

Thursday’s other quarters will pit Monfils against Brands, Brown versus his
compatriot Gojowczyk, and Hanescu against Mayer.