(January 5th, 2013) -- Richard Gasquet was within a whisker from falling behind a double break in the second set of his 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over Nikolay Davydenko today, but the Frenchman dug down deep to earn his eighth title in his 18th ATP final appearance.
It was also the first ATP title recorded in 2013.
"It's a big success for me," said Gasquet afterwards. "I fought a lot, we were both tired."
Davydenko, who had surprised many on Friday when he ended a string of 15 consecutive top ten losses by manhandling David Ferrer in straight sets, appeared to lose concentration down the stretch, but much of his failure to close out the victory has to be attributed to Gasquet.
In becoming the fourth Frenchman to win at the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open, Gasquet proved that his year-end top ten finish is no fluke. The 26-year-old got the better of the play in the final two sets, and he became the first man to break Davydenko's serve all week long in the eighth game of the second set.
From there the pair each held serve twice to force a tiebreaker, where Gasquet once again took the play to the 31-year-old Russian, finally converting on his third set point to draw even.
In the decider, after Davydenko went off court to have a hip injury looked at by medical staff, Gasquet kept the pressure on. After holding serve in his first 43 service games of the tournament, suddenly Davydenko found himself flummoxed in almost every single game that he toed the service line.
In the 5th game of the decider, one of the Russian's backhands sailed long to give Gasquet the lead at 3-2. For good measure Gasquet, crushing the ball from both wings and showing few signs of physical fatigue, scurried to hit an improbably good backhand passing shot past a helpless Davydenko at the net to go up two breaks.
Davydenko would get one of the breaks back to draw within 5-3, but he was broken for a third time when he netted a forehand to give Gasquet a glorious start to 2013.