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Unseeded Lopez comes under fire

©

Latest update : 2008-03-07

Unseeded Spanish Feliciano Lopez stunned fifth seed Russian Nikolay Davydenko with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win in the ATP Dubai championship semi-finals. His opponent in the final will be the USA's Andy Roddick, who defeated Serbian Novak Djokovic.

Feliciano Lopez, the enigmatic Spaniard who had previously won only one match in five months, Frida completed his third victory over a top ten player in a week to reach the final of the Dubai Open.
  
Lopez's last ditch comeback from 3-5 down to snatch an audacious 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Nikolay Davydenko handed him a place in his ATP Tour final since July 2006.
  
Nor was it a coincidence that Lopez should return to such spectacular form in the same place where the first of his four finals happened, four years ago here in the Aviation Club stadium.
  
The warm weather and fairly fast conditions suited an unusual attacking game, one quite unlike most Spaniards raised on clay who mostly develop preferences for longer baseline exchanges.
  
The last four games of the match, during which Lopez somehow dragged himself back from the exit, were harder to explain.
  
 Lopez laughed when he was asked to try.
  
 "I was lucky," he said. "I was down 3-5 and I think he made a few mistakes in that game, and then anything can happen.
  
"Then I took my chances and won this match. It's really good for me because to win it from there is difficult. I made it, but I was lucky," he repeated.
  
It must have been particularly galling for Davydenko, who has played 34 semi-finals but only reached 14 finals, and has won only one title in 17 months.
  
The world number five from Russia was keen to develop the admirable consistency in his results into more frequent final day appearances, but when serving for the match he could get no further than 30-30.
  
At that stage he tried to follow up a service with a deep forehand drive but over-hit it, and then at 30-40 he over-hit again, this time with a backhand drive.
  
Lopez flung a fist wildly with pleasure at this escape and then clung on to his service game for 5-5 despite having sunk to love-30 with a double fault.
  
By now, Davydenko appeared a little edgy and his next service game was a disaster. It included two backhand driving errors, one long and one into the net, and a sitter of a missed backhand volley on game point, close to the net and high above it.
  
Asked if he were nervous, he said: "I don't know really, I don't think so. Today at 5-3 I was thinking 'just try to topspin the serve in and play from the baseline' - and it didn't happen.
  
"I made a mistake. I try to win from the baseline and I can't. Maybe I need to try a hard first serve and be risky, I don't know."
  
Prior to that Davydenko had been getting on top with greater consistency from the baseline, plus a more all-round ability to force the issue from both wings.
  
Lopez was often made to slice defensively from the backhand side, though he often served impressively and was dangerous when came to the net.
  
Earlier in the week he had also beaten, Tomas Berdych, the world number ten from the Czech republic, and David Ferrer, the world number four from Spain. Asked whether 41 was a disappointing ranking for a player of his ability, he joked: "If you saw my results it's not disappointing."
  
He continued in more serious vein: "Maybe after this week I will think about why I have been 41 in the world."
  
Lopez will play in the final the winner of Novak Djokovic, the third-seeded Australian Open champion from Serbia, and Andy Roddick, the sixth-seeded former US Open champion from the United States.
  

Date created : 2008-03-07

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