THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DOHA, Qatar — Gael Monfils’ comeback from injury took a hit when he lost to German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-1, 7-5 in the Qatar Open quarterfinals on Thursday.
The Frenchman, who ended his season early in 2012 due to knee problems, beat Philip Kohlschreiber in three sets to reach the quarterfinals. But he came out sluggish against the 153rd-ranked Brands, struggling to return the German’s serve and failing to chase down many of his forehands.
After losing the first set, Monfils jumped out to 3-0 and 5-2 leads in the second but Brands won the final five games.
"He went for his shots more than me, and obviously at the end he was like blowing in like every ball," Monfils said. "Actually, he was playing very fast at the beginning, and it took me a while to adapt and to just to see how he was playing."
Monfils said he was still not 100 per cent, but he insisted his recovery remains on pace and he had no pain in his knees this week.
"It was tougher because I felt a bit heavier, and it was my first tough match yesterday," Monfils said. "I struggled a bit with my recovery. I have to get used to, and, you know, just adjust a couple of stuff to be better."
Brands is one of six unseeded players to reach the quarterfinals and is looking for his first ATP title. Though his win was a surprise, he said he has the ability to play with the world’s best players.
"If I have confidence and I feel good, then I can play like today," Brands said. "I have to try to get into the top 100. That’s my goal."
It was a much easier time for the two remaining seeded players, as No. 1 David Ferrer brushed aside Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-0 in just over an hour while No. 2 Richard Gasquet beat Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-1, 6-3.
The 10th-ranked Gasquet played his best match of the tournament, mixing up a strong service game with good net play and a strong backhand. He also took advantage of Lacko’s injured left ankle, which limited his mobility and required treatment during the first set.
Ferrer was never challenged by the 64th-ranked Lorenzi. He broke the Italian early in the first on the way to a 3-0 lead. Mixing up some nifty drop shots with a good service game, he never gave Lorenzi a chance to break him and get back in the set. The second set was even more one-sided, with the fifth-ranked Ferrer breaking Lorenzi three times.
"Well, the match, it was good," Ferrer said. "In the second set, I played more aggressive with my game … I’m trying to change my game sometimes. Depends on my opponent. Today I did two drops, and I am trying to improve my volley, to go more to the net."
Gasquet will face Brands in the semifinals while Ferrer will take on a resurgent Nikolay Davydenko who is showing signs of the form that saw him once reach third in the world. He crushed Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-1, 6-1 in only 49 minutes, winning all five break points and nearly 80 per cent of the first-service points.