Tennis: Djokovic and Nadal ease into Qatar quarter-finals

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to Spain's Fernando Verdasco.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to Spain's Fernando Verdasco.PHOTO: REUTERS

DOHA (AFP) - Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal breezed through to the Qatar Open quarter-finals on Wednesday, raising hopes the pair will appear in a dream Doha final later this week.

No. 1 seed Djokovic lost just four games in a comprehensive defeat of Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

The world No. 1 triumphed 6-2, 6-2, in one hour nine minutes.

He was matched straight after on Centre Court by Nadal, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, who swept aside Robin Haase 6-3, 6-2 in just 65 minutes.

Djokovic’s victory matched the result of his first round match against Dustin Brown and means the Serb has spent just two hours on court in the first two rounds.

“Both of the matches went very well,” said Djokovic immediately afterwards, adding he had put in a “very solid performance” on Wednesday.

Ominously for his rivals, Djokovic looked already to be getting back to his dominant form of 2015.

In warmer temperatures experienced in Doha than in the rest of the week – around 20 deg C – Djokovic controlled the match from the very beginning.

He first broke Verdasco’s serve in the fourth game and was rarely troubled after that.

The Serb squandered another break point just two games later but eventually closed out the set on Verdasco’s serve to go one up in just 31 minutes.

Verdasco, the world No. 49 who had beaten Djokovic four times in their 11 previous meetings, offered some resistance in the second set but only enough to delay the inevitable.

The Spaniard, who may have been feeling the effects of his first round victory less than 24 hours before, missed two break opportunities in the second set and was made to pay.

Djokovic was watched by coach Boris Becker, the first winner of the Qatar Open back in 1993.

The Serb will play the No. 8 seed, Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer in the last-eight.

It was in the third round last year that Djokovic crashed out of the Qatar Open, losing to Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic.

Nadal was just as impressive in his victory over Haase. He broke the Dutchman early on and never looked back.

“(I am) just very happy to be through, I think I played a very strong match,” said the Spaniard.

Nadal had struggled in the first round, finally coming through after dropping the first set against compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta.

He plays Andrey Kuznetsov in the last eight.

Earlier Jeremy Chardy won an all-French clash beating Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-4.

Chardy will play the surprise player of the tournament, Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko, who followed up his impressive first round defeat of defending champion David Ferrer with victory on Tuesday over Teymuraz Gabashvili, 6-4, 6-2.