Desert Rain Can’t Stop Rafa

Despite the rain…that’s right, I said RAIN…here in Doha, we managed to play all six scheduled matches today. In quarterfinal play, we started with a pair of German qualifiers who sparred ’til the end. Peter Gojowczyk (pronounced Go-YOV-chick) defeated Dustin Brown in a third-set tie-break to reach his first-ever ATP World Tour semifinal. In the post match press-conference, he told the media that Rafa had actually congratulated him in the locker room, so thankfully Nadal now knows who is. During the post-match interview on court, he was beyond thrilled and made sure to thank the fans for their support. With his first-ever second-round appearance at the US Open back in August (defeated Igor Sijsling in the first round), and now an ATP-250 semifinal match with Rafa, perhaps 2014 is the “Year of the Gojowczyk!”

DohaRain14Then we introduced Victor Hanescu and Florian Mayer, and before we could even conclude the warm-up, the rain took over. It never turned into a toad-strangler, but the rain was enough to delay play for nearly two hours. Eventually, the Hanescu vs. Mayer match was moved to Court #1, where Florian Mayer prevailed in a tough three-sets.

Once center court was dried, we welcomed on the #7-seed Ernests Gulbis and World #1 Rafael Nadal. Completely unintimidated by Rafa and their head-to-head record (Nadal-6, Gulbis-0), the fearless Ernests took it right to Rafa again. Costly mistakes, taking unnecessary gambles and sheer frustration cost Gulbis the match down the stretch, losing in the second set 4-6…despite being up a break early on. Ouch.

The night’s last quarterfinal featured Germany’s Daniel Brands and two-time Qatar ExxonMobil Open Finalist Gael Monfils. A rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, they’d actually played three-times in 2013 alone…all won by the German. Tonight, however, Monfils easily pulled off the win; and during the post-match interview responded “Exactly!” when asked if his reaction to the win was: “FINALLY!”

In doubles semifinal play, the #1-seeds Peya and Soares defeated the #3-seeds Dodig and Melo, while Berdych and Hayek of the Czech Republic downed the defending Doha champions Kas and Kohlschreiber. Tomorrow’s play starts at 4:30 with the doubles final…semifinal singles matches start no earlier than 6:00p local time. First up: Gojowczyk vs. Rafa, followed by Mayer vs. Monfils.

SCORES – Singles Quarterfinals

[1] R Nadal (ESP) d [7] E Gulbis (LAT) 75 64
[Q] P Gojowczyk (GER) d [Q] D Brown (GER) 63 36 76(5)
F Mayer (GER) d V Hanescu (ROU) 64 67(8) 64
G Monfils (FRA) d D Brands (GER) 62 61

SCORES – Doubles Semifinals

[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d [3] I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) 63 63
T Berdych (CZE) / J Hajek (CZE) d C Kas (GER) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) 62 63