Djokovic, Nadal into Qatar quarters


Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal breezed through to the Qatar Open quarterfinals on Wednesday, raising hopes the pair will appear in a dream Doha final later this week.

Top 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 1 hour, 9 minutes.

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

Djokovic’s victory equaled 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,” Djokovic said immediately afterward, adding he had put in a “very solid performance” on Wednesday.

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

In temperatures warmer than those experienced in Doha — around 20 C— earlier in the week, 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, ranked 49th, 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.

The Serb will play the eighth 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,” the Spaniard said.

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 by 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.

Kerber advances

Brisbane Australia AP

Fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany, the highest-ranked woman remaining at the Brisbane International, advanced to the semifinals on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.

Top-seeded Simona Halep and third-seeded Maria Sharapova withdrew because of injuries ahead of their matches on Tuesday, while second-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain retired with an injury in the second set of her match Wednesday.

Kerber, a former Wimbledon semifinalist, will face the winner of Thursday’s match between Carla Suarez Navarro and Varvara Lepchenko.