David Ferrer wins against Dustin Brown and rips court at Qatar Open
Top-seeded David Ferrer started the new season with a dropped first set at the Qatar Open to Dustin Brown, a qualifier outside the world's top 150, and a damaged court which opened like a crater on the moon.
Repairs appeared to involve tape and glue on a tear about five feet behind the baseline where Ferrer's heel had ripped into the surface.
There was also an anxious-looking conference and a ball-boys' impromptu Gangnam-style dance session on the playing area during a delay which lasted more than an hour. It was 2-1/2 hours before the world number five from Spain survived his first-round tie.
Ferrer won 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 against Brown, a tall, Jamaica-based German nicknamed "Dreddy" with impressive locks flowing down to the small of his back.
"None of it was easy," said Ferrer, which was an understatement. Brown was unusual for his aggressive serving, eager forward movement, and willingness to volley, and other circumstances must have seemed to Ferrer bizarrely familiar.
Two years ago he and Andy Roddick were forced off their court at the US Open by a crack near the baseline, which let water through and required them to change courts, and last year at New York a tornado forced Ferrer and Novak Djokovic to interrupt their semi-final by an entire day.
Roddick tweeted a solution for Doha, suggesting they should "move Ferrer to court 13" - the court number where the American completed his 2011 US Open win over the Spaniard. Ferrer chortled with laughter when he heard. Later, Ferrer commented on the oddities which had afflicted him in the last two years by saying: "Yeah - so many things, yeah. Too many things."
Asked if something was following him around, he said: "Something, yes - it's bad luck. I don't even know why."
This time Ferrer had a more fortunate resumption. Though a set down he broke Brown's serve at once, and consolidated that advantage right through the second set. He then made another crucial break, at the start of the third set, by which time the favourite was accelerating towards safety.
The seedings say that Ferrer should play a final on Saturday with Richard Gasquet, the world number 10 from France, whose fluency appeared only intermittently during a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jan Hernych, a Czech qualifier.