Rafael Nadal overcame a break deficit in the second set to turn away Ernests Gulbis for the seventh straight time, 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals in Doha earlier today.
The win moves Nadal into the semifinals tomorrow against little-known qualifier Peter Gojowczyk. The 24-year-old German edged Dustin Brown 7-5 in the final set breaker to advance to his first career ATP semifinal.
Maybe the bigger highlight came after the match when Nadal offered congratulations to Gojowczyk.
“I met him now in the locker room, and he said, ‘Congrats, Peter.’ It’s nice. Now I think he know me now,” Gojowczyk said. “I think I asked him for his signature in New York [at the] US Open last year. I met him also in the locker room, and I said, ‘Can I get a signature?’”
Nadal will likely not be as nice tomorrow on the court.
In the other semi, Gael Monfils, a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Daniel Brands, meets Andy Murray’s conqueror Florian Mayer.
In Brisbane, Lleyton Hewitt and Jeremy Chardy were both second round winners yesterday. Today in the quarterfinals Roger Federer will meet Australian Marinko Matosevic.
“I would assume he gets some support,” Federer said of playing an Matosevic. “I don’t know if he’s from Brisbane or not. He’s not? That’s good. No, you know, I go the match and try to play a good match. I’m already very thankful that I always get a chance to play in front of a sell‑out crowd usually, and all the support I do get is so appreciated. Again this week it’s very special experience me.”
Marin Cilic also faces Kei Nishikori, but the headline match will be the resumption of the Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova rivalry in the Brisbane semifinals. The two most popular female athletes on the planet will meet for a 17th time with Serena well ahead 14-2 having won their last 13. It’s also their first battle since their Wimbledon war of words.
“I haven’t had a lot of success against her in the past,” Sharapova admitted. “But it’s the first tournament of the year. I came here wanting to play as many matches as I could and wanting to play the best. There’s no substitute for getting ready for a Grand Slam than competing against the best. She’s been on a roll the last couple of years with her level. I competed against her a few times last year; didn’t work.
“You always hope that you can go out and give yourself a chance to do better next time.”
Serena, the World No. 1, has won her last 20 matches overall and 14 of her last 16 matches against Top 5 players.
“When you’re playing anyone in the top five or top 10, for me, I approach that match different because they know what that takes to win,” Serena said. “Some of them have won Grand Slams so they know what it takes to go even further. You definitely can’t underestimate those players.”
In the earlier semifinal, Victoria Azarenka squares off against Jelena Jankovic. All top four seeds made the semifinals in the women’s draw.
In Auckland. Serena’s elder sister Venus reached the semifinals against fellow American Jamie Hampton. Second seed Ana Ivanovic is in the other vs. Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens.
And in the Shenzhen semifinals, local favorite Li Na takes on Annika Beck while in the second semi it’s Vania King clashing with Peng Shuai.
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 11:30 am
ATP – M Cilic (CRO) vs  K Nishikori (JPN)
Not Before 2:30 pm ATP -
L Hewitt (AUS) vs [Q] M Copil (ROU)
Not Before 3:30 pm
WTA –  J Jankovic (SRB) vs  V Azarenka (BLR)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP –  R Federer (SUI) vs M Matosevic (AUS)
Not Before 8:30 pm
WTA –  S Williams (USA) vs  M Sharapova (RUS)
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Nadal Eats A Bagel in Doha; Roddick v. Baghdatis Tonight in Brisbane
Davydenko Dumps Ailing Rafa, Meets Federer for Doha Title; Roddick, Soderling Nearing Brisbane Collision
Serena, Nadal, Ivanovic, Li Win WTA/ATP Titles
Nadal, Federer Cruise in 2011 Openers; Verdasco Vanquished in Brisbane