Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Qatar ExxonMobil 2013 Tennis Tournament

So thanks to the generosity of a friend of mine I had a ticket to the finals of the Qatar ExxonMobil tennis tournament. I did see some of the second round but it was cool to have tickets to the finals. The finals featured Richard Gasquet (not much of a surprise, he's ranked 10th in the world right now) and Nikolay Davydenko (big surprise, he's currently ranked 44th in the world). Granted, Davydenko used to be a big deal in the tennis world, at one point ranked number three and had won this tournament once before, but he's 31 now and had a fairly poor 2012 season so there wasn't much talk of him anymore. But after he dispatched world number five David Ferrer in straight sets in the semifinals here the internet tennis world was abuzz with the possibility that the Davydenko of old was back.

While I think Davydenko lacks the charisma of Gasquet I was rooting for him anyway. I think I like rooting for the underdog.

While tickets were sold out there were a number of empty seats in the stands. I figure it was maybe 75-80% full. I'm guessing that corporate sponsors get a huge block of seats and then don't fill them. While the turnout was still good, and certainly wouldn't be embarrassing if seeing it on TV, I wish the organizers would set up some kind of system where people waiting at the gate could be let in to fill empty seats, not unlike what the Doha Tribeca does now.

Anyways it was a good match. Davydenko was playing some high-risk tennis, hitting balls at sharp angles towards the lines and getting some great winners. There were times when Gasquet was left shaking his head at the shots, shocked that they landed in. Davydenko took the first set solidly, and was well on his way to win the second set (up a break at 4-2 and with two break points in the game) when suddenly it turned around and Gasquet managed to save the break points, break Davydenko, and take the game to a tiebreaker which he won. Then in the first game of the third set Davydenko had to go for a lengthy medical timeout because something was wrong with his hip. He returned but he wasn't at 100% so Gasquet now had the upper hand. Davydenko fought hard during the set but couldn't keep to the level he had before so ultimately lost.

Davydenko noted afterward that he did start to be tired. Wrong thing to say Nikolay! Now the tennis world is doubtful you’ll be able to keep up with the five-setters at the Australian Open. Hopefully it was just the hip problem and it will be fine in time for the tournament.

So congratulations to Richard Gasquet!

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