Day-4 of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2016 saw the tournament’s top-3 advance to the semifinals in the singles draw, while the top two doubles teams fell.
Here on Center Court, the day’s first quarterfinal saw Illya Marchenko leap out to an early 5-0 lead on the #7-seed Jeremy Chardy. While Chardy’s blistering serves and desperate aggressiveness kept set-2 competitive, Marchenko would earn a spot in his 3rd career ATP World Tour semifinal, downing the World #31, 6-3, 7-6(3). Illya received several visits from the physio during the second set. He’ll carry a back-strain into tomorrow’s match with 2014 Champion Rafael Nadal.
The day’s second quarterfinal was a thriller. Rafael Nadal comfortably delivered the first set after jumping out to a 3-0 lead on Andrey Kuznetsov. The Russian took more chances in the second and delivered some brilliant highlight-worthy winners. In a set loaded with service breaks, Kuznetsov’s 3rd break would level the match. Set #3 nearly mirrored the first, both struggling to hold. Rafa would deliver a timely win on his return to reach his 5th career Doha semifinal: 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
Novak Djokovic stumbled early versus Argentine Leonardo Mayer – Mayer broke early to go up 2-0. Novak quickly recovered and delivered three breaks of his own to take the set. Mayer would earn an early break in the second, as well. Up 5-4, he had a chance to serve for the set…but, always clutch, Novak won the next three games to earn his first Doha semifinal appearance: 6-3, 7-5.
The nightcap saw last year’s finalist Tomas Berdych dismantle qualifier Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-2. Kyle delivered a solid run in Doha to launch the new season, posting two qualifying wins and victories over #43 Martin Klizan and #75 Daniel Munoz de la Nava. He came into the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open 2016 ranked outside the top-100. He’ll enter next week inside the top-90. Meanwhile the World #6 Tomas Berdych has cruised through his quarter without dropping a set. All of that changes tomorrow, as he faces the World #1 for the 24th time. Berdych has won two of those matches, most recently in Rome back in 2013. I asked him after the match: “With your game this week, what – if anything – needs to change in preparation for Novak.” With a huge grin, he said: “Everything.” We’ll see what kind of test he can give Novak tomorrow in the second semifinal.
On Court-1, the top two seeds fell in the doubles draw as Phillipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya took out the #1-seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau. The #3-seeds Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez eliminated the #2-seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 10-5 in a match tie-break.
RESULTS. Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2016. Quarterfinal Singles.
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d  L. Mayer (ARG) 63 75
 R. Nadal (ESP) d A. Kuznetsov (RUS) 63 57 64
 T. Berdych (CZE) d [Q] K. Edmund (GBR) 63 62
I. Marchenko (UKR) d  J. Chardy (FRA) 63 76(3)
RESULTS. Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2016. Semifinal Doubles.
 P. Petzschner (GER) / A. Peya (AUT) d  J. Rojer (NED) / H. Tecau (ROU) 76(5) 62
 F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) d  J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) 36 63 10-5