Rafael Nadal is the last seed standing in the Middle East…
The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star, the top seed at the Qatar Open, beat seventh-seeded Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Thursday to earn the distinction as the tournament’s last remaining seed.
Nadal, who is often tested by the 24th-ranked Gulbis, has yet to lose a match to the Latvian in seven played.
This rain-delayed match marked only the second time Nadal has defeated Gulbis in straight sets. The other time was also in Doha, in the 2011 quarterfinals.
Nadal finally broke Gulbis in the 11th game when the latter sent a drop shot wide. Nadal needed five set points to close out the first set in the next game.
Gulbis raced to 3-0 in the second set but couldn’t hold on to the advantage. He had three points for 4-1 but ended up losing serve.
Nadal broke with a stunning backhand cross-court that creased the line in the seventh game to take a permanent lead. He closed the match with a breathtaking backhand volley winner.
“I’m happy to win against Ernests,” Nadal said. “If you are not playing well it’s very, very difficult. He’s able to hit winners from every part on the court.”
Nadal is set to play German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk. The 162nd-ranked Gojowczyk defeated fellow German qualifier Dustin Brown 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) to reach his first career tour semifinal.
Before this week, Gojowczyk had only one ATP tour-level match win, at the 2013 US Open.
The other semi will pit Florian Mayer of Germany against Gael Monfils of France.