Shaky Federer still on course for Nadal final

World No 1 beats Gulbis in Doha to keep alive prospect of showdown with old rival

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have met only twice since their momentous Wimbledon final of 2008 but the world's best two players are on course to face each other for the 21st time in tomorrow's final of the Qatar Open in Doha.

The Swiss and the Spaniard yesterday reached the semi-finals in their first competitive tournament of the year, though Federer had some uncomfortable moments before beating Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Nadal was leading Steve Darcis 6-1, 2-0 when his Belgian opponent retired hurt.

Nadal has beaten Federer in 13 of their 20 matches, though he lost in their most recent encounter in the final of the Madrid Masters last May. He had won their previous meeting at last year's Australian Open, when he beat the Swiss in a Grand Slam final for the third time in the space of eight months. Nadal was world No 1 at the time, but Federer reclaimed his place at the top of the rankings by going on to win the French Open and Wimbledon.

Gulbis was regarded as one of the game's best young talents two years ago but had a poor 2009, winning two main-draw matches in a row on only two occasions. However, wins this week over Albert Montanes and Andreas Seppi had suggested the 21-year-old might be rediscovering his form.

Federer took the first set in just 33 minutes but started to make frequent unforced errors in the second. Gulbis had break points to lead 4-2 and 5-3 and finally broke when Federer served to stay in the set at 4-5. From 40-15 up, the Swiss made four mistakes in succession to put the world No 90 back in the match.

Even when Federer broke to lead 3-2 in the decider Gulbis was not finished. The big-hitting Latvian broke back immediately, only to drop his serve again at 4-4 after hitting a wild forehand at 30-40. Federer did not waste his second chance, sealing victory with an ace on his second match point.

Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters have played each other even more frequently than Federer and Nadal and kept alive their chances of meeting for the 23rd time in tomorrow's Brisbane International final.

Henin beat Melinda Czink 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 and Clijsters overcame Lucie Safarova 6-1, 0-6, 6-4, though their scratchy quarter-final performances suggested that their passage to an all-Belgian final would by no means be a foregone conclusion. Henin, in particular, was facing a major task in her semi-final today against Ana Ivanovic, while Clijsters was due to play Germany's Andrea Petkovic.

The Belgians last met in the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2006, Henin winning in straight sets to take a 12-10 lead in their head-to-head record.

Spain, in the shape of Tommy Robredo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, reached the final of the Hopman Cup in Perth thanks to a whitewash victory over the Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur. Their opponents tomorrow will be decided by today's final round-robin matches, in which Britain's Andy Murray and Laura Robson were taking on Russia's Igor Andreev and Elena Dementieva.

News
peopleTop Gear presenter and all-round controversialist is at it again
Sport
Aaron Ramsey celebrates after opening the scoring in Arsenal's win over Hull `
sport
News
peopleActress speaks out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have 'gone quite far now'

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

VIDEO
Life & Style
Guests enjoy food and cocktail parings by Chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr, Daniel Rose and Mindy Segal with mixologists Josh King and Alex Gara at Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Dinner Series at Heaven on Seven on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
food + drinkSprinkle Palcohol 'on almost any dish' for 'an extra kick' firm says...
Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
politicsLabour launches the 'completely hollow' Easter Clegg
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Arts & Entertainment
Last, but by no means least, is Tommy Cooper and the fez. This style of hat became a permanent trademark of his act.
comedyNot Like That, Like This centres on alleged domestic abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Oxegen in Ireland has been axed as promoters decide it is 'no longer viable'
arts + ents Promoters have axed the event as it is 'no longer viable in current form'
News
The troubled star is set to give fans the biggest insight into her life away from the headlines
people Star made the announcement during the final episode of the programme, entitled Lindsay
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players