Davydenko upset gives Murray his final chance

Andy Murray is in a hurry. The new season is less than a week old but the 19-year-old Scot is already through to his first final of the campaign after sweeping aside Nikolai Davydenko, the world No 3, at the Qatar Open yesterday.

Despite continuing to suffer the after-effects of a heavy cold, Murray ended the semi-final in complete control against one of the game's most consistent players. The British No 1 won 7-5, 6-2 and meets Ivan Ljubicic, the world No 5, in today's final.

With the Australian Open beginning in Melbourne on Monday week, Murray is hitting form at a time when players often struggle to put their game together. Fresh from his winter training in the United States with Brad Gilbert, his coach, and Mark Grabow, his new fitness guru, the world No 17 has had an excellent week in Doha, despite coughing and spluttering his way through his matches in cold and windy conditions.

Even if Davydenko was well below his best, Murray can regard the win as a significant measure of his progress. He lost twice to the Russian last year and was trounced 6-0 in the fourth and final set of their fourth-round match at the US Open in September.

Davydenko has climbed to No 3 in the world thanks to hard work and sheer consistency. His game is based on his speed around the court, a potent return of serve and relentlessly penetrating groundstrokes.

In New York, Murray was worn down by the excellence of Davydenko's play and at first it seemed he might suffer the same fate here. At 2-2, the Scot lost a service game to love as the No 1 seed pressured his opponent into mistakes.

At 4-3, Murray broke back, giving Davydenko a taste of his own medicine by taking the game when the Russian netted a backhand at the end of a long rally. It proved the turning point. Murray induced a succession of errors from Davydenko, who never looked the same after taking a time-out for treatment to an ankle problem.

The Russian struggled to hold his serve at 4-5 and failed to do so two games later, putting a volley out after Murray's thumping crosscourt backhand. Two of three breaks early in the second set went to Murray, who clinched victory by breaking again.

It will be the fourth final of Murray's career. He beat Lleyton Hewitt in San Jose last February but lost to Roger Federer in Bangkok in October 2005 and to Arnaud Clément in Washington last August.

Murray beat Ljubicic in their last meeting, at the Madrid Masters in October, and the Croat was fortunate to win his semi-final against Sweden's Robin Soderling. The No 2 seed came from match point down to triumph 3-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Whatever today's outcome, Murray has earned enough points to secure a place in the world's top 16, which will guarantee he will not face any of the big names in the Australian Open before round four.

* Roger Rasheed, Hewitt's coach, has parted company with the Australian.

Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor