Top seeds out of Qatar Open
RAAJIV TRIPATHI DOHA TOP-SEEDED Rafael Nadal was hustled out of the Qatar Open in the semi-finals on Friday, joining second- seeded Roger Federer at the Doha exit door after the Swiss star pulled out with a back injury.
French Open champion Nadal lost 6-3, 6-4 to Gael Monfils, the world number 16 from France. The result guaranteed a French winner of the Qatar Open for the first time since Nicolas Escude eight years ago, for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also reached the final when Federer’s hopes were scuppered by a bad back.
Fans, who were expecting a dream final between Federer and Nadal, were utterly disappointed.
Federer, who was looking for his fourth title in Doha, apologised to organisers saying he didn’t want to risk further injury ahead of the Australian Open.
It is only the second time the 30- year-old Swiss has pulled out of a tournament due to injury in his illustrious career. The first was at the 2008 Paris Masters, where he withdrew from a quarterfinal also due to a back injury, the ATP said.
“It’s only the second time in my life that I have pulled out of a tournament.
I’ve never pulled out during a match. It’s a sad moment for me, for the tournament and for the fans, but health comes first, like everybody knows, and I hope I can recover quickly,” he said.
This was the 12th clash between Tsonga and Federer, third in the semi-finals. Last year, both had met in the semi-finals and Federer, who holds a 8-3 edge, had claimed the title. Federer said he had tried several treatments including massage and baths after he first felt pain during his second-round match against qualifier Grega Zemlja. He played against Seppi but struggled to a three-set victory, trailing 5-1 during the second set and looking out of sorts. But afterward, he said nothing about the injury.
“It came throughout two points against Zemlja in the beginning, 2-1 in the first set, and then I wasn’t able to serve properly anymore,” Federer said. “Had the same thing on Thursday. I was really playing, you know, with the hand brake on, and I was just trying to manage the situation, really. So it wasn’t very easy to deal with.” “Sorry for holding a press conference before the match has even been played, but I hurt my back in my second round match against Zemlja and just got a little bit better for the match against Seppi,” Federer explained.
“I don’t feel a whole lot of improvement for today and I
just don’t think it’s the right
time to risk anything more
right now. I still have pain, and
that’s why it was the only right
decision, a difficult one for me.
He also said: “It wasn’t very
easy to deal with, but it was
like a back spasm that came
on, which happens often. And
when it happens once in a
while, you can just get through
it sometimes if you have a
couple of days off or if you can
work a lot with painkillers.
But I don’t have any days off. I
can’t pump myself crazy with
painkillers I don’t want to do
that and this is why, this was
the only decision I can take
right now,” Federer said with
Federer also said he expects
to be ready for the Australian
Open, which he had won four
times in five finals. “For
Australia, I’m optimistic. I
have had bad backs in the past.
This is definitely not very good
otherwise I would be playing.
“But I feel without play and
the right treatment, I will get
through it in the next few days.
That’s my personal opinion
But then, of course, I have a
long journey in front of me
going to Australia, but I hope
maybe by next week I should
be 100 percent fit again, but
that’s just guessing right now.
We’ll see how it goes,” said
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had sent
out a veiled threat on Thursday
to Federer saying that the
match on Sunday would be