Andy Murray maintained his impressive start to 2008 by reaching the final of the Qatar Open in Doha for the second successive year. The 20-year-old Scot overpowered the world No 4 Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 6-3 to repeat his straight-sets win over the top-seeded Russian in last year's semi-finals.
His opponent in today's final will be Stanislas Wawrinka, the 22-year-old Swiss No 2 who was an unexpected 7-6, 6-4 winner over the defending champion, Ivan Ljubicic, of Croatia, in the first semi-final.
Murray, who has looked imperious at times this week, made an uncharacteristically nervous start, dropping his serve in the opening game, and allowed his opponent to dominate the early exchanges. But Davydenko's serving let him down in the sixth game and a double fault got the set back on level terms.
Murray consolidated the break with a first love service game to edge ahead for the first time and broke the tournament favourite a second time to wrap up the first set after 44 minutes.
The Scot then strengthened his grip on the match, forcing Davydenko into a series of errors. The confidence visibly ebbed from the Russian and he was broken again in the fourth game. The British No 1 squandered three match points in the eighth game but he served out for the victory in an hour and 23 minutes. The win guarantees Murray 15,000 but the Scot will be a firm favourite to go one better than last year by landing the 86,000 first prize, even though he has lost both previous contests with Wawrinka, the world No 36.
The Swiss player beat him in the Davis Cup in Geneva in 2005 and in his fifth ATP final, will be aiming to collect his second title.
The former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt suffered a blow to his Australian Open preparations when he was beaten by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the quarter-finals of the Adelaide International yesterday.
The top seed was overpowered 6-4, 6-2 by the Frenchman, who hammered 14 aces in his 80-minute victory. In Madras, another former world No 1, the twice former champion Carlos Moya, swept into his fifth semi-final at the Chennai Open with a 6-3, 6-4 win over the unseeded Frenchman Florent Serra. The winner in 2004 and 2005, Moya faces a probable meeting with his fellow Spaniard, Rafael Nadal. The world No 2 was due to play another Spaniard, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, later yesterday.
In Perth, the United States edged out an injury-hit Serbia in a deciding mixed doubles to win a dramatic Hopman Cup final.
The Americans led 1-0 after Jamie Murray's former doubles partner, Jelena Jankovic, forfeited her singles against Serena Williams because of a leg injury. The world No 3 Novak Djokovic shrugged off fatigue to pull Serbia level with a battling 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 victory over Mardy Fish. Jankovic returned for the mixed doubles but the US hit back from 4-1 down in the first set to win 7-6, 6-2 and take their fifth Hopman Cup title.
l Former world No 1 Martina Hingis, who retired in November after testing positive for cocaine, was banned for two years yesterday after an independent tribunal confirmed the offence. The 27-year-old Swiss will also forfeit the ranking points gained at last year's Wimbledon and $129,000 (65,000) in prize money.