Tomas Berdych had not been broken in 34 service games in the 2015 Qatar ExxonMobil Open. That changed. In the first game of the final yesterday.
More than an hour later, his opponent David Ferrer became the second Spaniard after Rafael Nadal to win the ATP title in Doha.
Ferrer, breaking Berdych four times, beat third seed Berdych 6-4, 7-5 to win $195000 in prize money and become the oldest champion in Doha at 32 years.
“I think in important points I got a little bit lucky,” Ferrer, who was appearing in his 47th career ATP Tour final, said after the match. “I tried to stay confident in the bad moments. Maybe Tomas lost concentration a little bit when he lost the three set points.
“My performance was very good. I think I began the match receiving very good. It really was close. Always with Tomas Berdych I have to play my best tennis to beat him. “Well, I am happy because it is never easy beginning the season with a tournament win, and I could win the tournament playing good tennis.”
Going into yesterday’s final, Berdych had won 85 percent of points on his 1st serve in the tournament. That dipped to 75 percent yesterday.
Asked if he was doing something wrong or Ferrer was doing something right about his serve, Berdych said, “I think it’s been a bit of combination of both things, but still, you know, I think that I have been selecting the shots quite well. In the end, sometimes, not all of them work well.” He added: “A couple of times I missed it by a very short (margin), and a couple of let play didn’t go my way. When you play with a player like David, every single point where you were kind of unlucky, it makes a big difference.”
A break down at 4-5 in the first set, with Ferrer serving, Berdych had a double break point. However, Ferrer won three straight points to go advantage. Just then Ferrer’s shot hit the top of the net, forcing Berdych to come forward and wait a fraction of a second more adjusting for a backhand. The shot went wide and Berdych just stood there, looking at his box, shaking his head, knowing very well that he had lost an opportunity.
Berdych had the chance to force the final into the third set in the tenth game. But two backhand errors meant that he couldn’t capitalise on a double break point. A forehand error by Ferrer gave Berdych another go but this time a drop shot decided to stay on his side of the net. Berdych will next play an exhibition match in Adelaide against Australia’s former world number one Lleyton Hewitt, and then head to Melbourne for the Australian Open.
Meanwhile, Ferrer is headed to Auckland but will not be playing in the tournament there. “For me, this tournament was not a preparation for Australian Open. Of course I am confident now, but for now I would like enjoy this moment and the next day’s rest. Maybe practice Thursday or Friday to be ready for the Australian Open,” said Ferrer, who became the seventh straight top 10 player to win the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
Talking about the year’s first Grand Slam, Berdych said, “I have to prepare to adjust for the conditions in Australia, which, you know, it’s going to be quite different—some time difference and also a bit of weather. But so far everything is going well. Everything is going smooth. I’m feeling good.”