DOHA, Qatar — Gael Monfils' comeback from injury took a hit Thursday when he lost to German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-1, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open.
The Frenchman, who ended his season early in 2012 because of 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.
Brands will face second-seeded Richard Gasquet, who beat Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-1, 6-3. Top-seeded David Ferrer defeated Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-0.
Ferrer will take on a resurgent Nikolay Davydenko, who routed Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-1, 6-1 in 49 minutes, winning all five break points and nearly 80 percent of the first-service points.
After losing the first set, Monfils took 3-0 and 5-2 leads in the second, but Brands won the final five games.
At Brisbane, Australia, Serena Williams had a tough win over the woman she's predicting will one day top the rankings, setting up a semifinal match at the Brisbane International against current No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
The reigning Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic champion showed plenty of emotion on key points in a heavy-hitting duel with Fed Cup teammate Sloane Stephens before winning 6-4, 6-3.
Williams converted both break points and fended off one break chance against her in each set.
Olympic and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray was pushed before winning his opening match 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 against Australian qualifier John Millman, who finished last year ranked No. 228.
The third-ranked Murray, the defending Brisbane champion, clutched at his stomach after missing a forehand in the third game of the second set and later had to save four set points before Millman tied the match at one set apiece.
Murray recovered from his lapse, got the only break in the deciding third set and finished off by holding serve at love. He'll meet Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, a 7-5, 7-5 winner over former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, in the quarterfinals.
In the other men's second-round matches, Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria upset No. 2-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 6-3, 6-4 and No. 7 Jurgen Melzer of Austria had a 6-5, 7-6 (4) win over David Goffin of Belgium.