DOHA, Qatar -- Second-seeded Richard Gasquet won the Qatar Open for his eight career title on Saturday, coming from a set down to beat Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
The unseeded Davydenko, who struggled with injuries last season, had the upper hand early. He broke the 10th-ranked Gasquet in the opening game, saved a break point in the second and hit a drop shot for a 3-0 lead on the way to dominating the first set. He was the aggressor, hitting a slew of forehand and backhand winners that kept Gasquet well beyond the baseline and helped to neutralize his net play.
In the second set, the 44th-ranked Davydenko saved three break points early and broke Gasquet for 3-2 and had two break chances to go up 4-2 which in all likelihood would have given him an insurmountable lead. But Gasquet saved them and broke back to even the set at 4. The set went to a tiebreak and Gasquet outplayed a clearly fatigued Davydenko, who started racking up unforced errors and losing control of his serve.
In the decider, the opening game was interrupted when Davydenko received about 10 minutes of treatment for hip trouble. He returned but was no match for Gasquet, who seemed the stronger and more determined player. Gasquet broke the Russian twice to go up 5-2. Davydenko broke back to make it 5-3 but then the Frenchman broke for a third time when Davydenko hit a backhand into the net -- his 57th unforced error of the match.
"It's a big success for me," Gasquet told the crowd that included scores of French expatriates. "I fought a lot because it was very tough and we were both tired. He is so talented and he plays so fast. It was tough for my game but I managed to win. A lot of good players have won here; (Roger) Federer, (Andy) Murray."
Having pulled out of the Sydney tournament for what he said was elbow trouble, Gasquet said he will be ready for the Australian Open and added that the win in Qatar will give him a much-needed boost.
"I'm really happy with the way I won. It's important for me to win the final," he said. "I'm confident. When you're winning a tournament like that, it's perfect. I played a lot, so for sure I will be ready for Melbourne."
Davydenko said the turning point came down to the second set when he failed to convert the two break points that would have put him up 5-2.
"It was maybe was the time where I can say I can win the match," Davydenko said. "But, you know, it's the game. I started to be tired a little bit in the beginning of the second set. It was not so easy. For sure I was thinking 4-3 for me I can do 5-3 ... I started to lose control. He did a couple of points fast and I made a mistake from forehand. I tried also in the tiebreak. But I know I already have no power for the tiebreak. I just feel like not really holding, you know, my level."
In the end, Davydenko blamed his conditioning for the defeat.
"I can beat him with the tennis like real tennis, but he beat me physically," he said. "He runs very well. I try always to make some winners, but he just was pushing fall backs, slice, spin. I just feel slowly and slowly I start to be tired and started to make mistakes."