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Nadal Beats Gulbis; Plays Davydenko In 2010 Final Repeat

Doha, Qatar

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal committed 11 unforced errors.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal came through another close encounter on Thursday when he beat Ernests Gulbis 7-6(3), 6-3 for a place in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals.

Nadal saved five of six break point opportunities, hitting four aces and winning 74 per cent of service points. The Spaniard, who committed 11 unforced errors to Gulbis’ 31 errors, improved to a 4-0 record against the 24-year-old Latvian.

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Nadal broke serve for 3-1 with a perfect forehand winner behind Gulbis, who eventually clawed his way back to 4-4 and could have won a fourth game on the trot. Serving at 0/40, Nadal fought back to deuce with groundstroke winners and clinched a 5-4 lead with a smash. In the tie-break, Nadal opened up a 4-1 lead and took the set with a forehand winner.

Watched by his mother and girlfriend, Nadal broke serve in the fifth game when Gulbis hit a forehand long. The top seed maintained the advantage to win in one hour and 52 minutes.

FedEx Reliability Index: Nadal And Fifth Set Ironmen

"I started the match playing very well the first game," said Nadal. "After that I [went] down. I was a little bit dizzy in the end of the first set, but I was very lucky at 4-all, love-40. That moment, decisive moment, was very lucky, I think.

"For sure I'm very happy to be in the semi-finals. I think today against a very difficult opponent like Gulbis is a great victory for me, and I'm very happy for this victory today."

Gulbis, 22, dropped to a 6-26 lifetime record against Top 10 opponents. In 2010, he won his first ATP World Tour title in 2010 at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

DEUCE Flashback: Ernests’ Evolution (August 2010)

Nikolay Davydenko, who has a 5-4 lead against Nadal, will next meet the Mallorcan in a repeat of the 2010 final. Davydenko withstood 14 aces from Ivo Karlovic’s racquet to beat the Croatian 6-3, 7-5 in 77 minutes.

"I think he's playing unbelievable, so it's gonna be a very difficult match," Nadal said of facing the Russian. "I'm gonna try my best tomorrow, and I know it's gonna be a real difficult match. We will see what's going on, what happens, and hopefully I feel good physically tomorrow."

For the first time in Doha since the inaugural year in 1993, the top four seeds have reached the semi-finals. In 1993, No. 1 Stefan Edberg, No. 2 Goran Ivanisevic, No. 3 Boris Becker and No. 4 Andrei Cherkasov reached the last four. Becker defeated Ivanisevic in the final. There's never been a No. 1-2 seeded final in Doha.

The last time the top four seeds reached the semi-finals in an ATP World Tour tournament was at the Rogers Cup in Toronto last year.

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Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Doha

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