ATP Qatar Exxonmobil Open 2020: Preview, draw analysis and prediction
The 28th edition of the Qatar Exxonmobil Open, which is part of the ATP 250 series, will take place at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha from 6 to 11 January 2020.
Despite being overshadowed by the inaugural edition of the brand-new team tournament ATP Cup, there will be no shortage of star power in Qatar's capital.
Voted as the best among the ATP 250s last year, the Qatar Open's entry list in 2020 features 28 players including three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, who will be the top seed.
Reigning champion Roberto Bautista Agut will not defend his crown as he represents Spain in Australian alongside 2014 Qatar champion Rafael Nadal. Two-time winner Novak Djokovic is also missing as he leads Team Serbia at the ATP Cup.
So who will vie for the opportunity to win the first ATP tour tournament of the year?
Top Half: Wawrinka leads the charge as top seed
The highest ranked player in the top half is also the highest ranked in the whole tournament and it is Wawrinka - the three-time Major champion. The top seed will make his sixth visit to Doha, and his best appearance at the event was finishing runner-up to Andy Murray in 2008.
Wawrinka will open against either Frenchman Jeremy Chardy (he owns a 6-0 record against him) or a qualifier in the second round, and potentially face Adrian Mannarino in the quarterfinals. The Swiss is likely to navigate his way to the semis where he could meet Milos Raonic - a player he enjoys a 5-3 head-to-head record against.
Projected semifinalists: Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic
Bottom Half: 2018 finalist Rublev leads a stacked section
The bottom half of the draw is anyone's game with the likes of Frances Tiafoe, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Laslo Djere and Andrey Rublev all in with a reasonable chance of making the final.
Frenchman Tsonga is enjoying a renaissance at the age of 34, having won three titles in 2019 - two of which were at tour-level. He has made the quarterfinals or better in each of his previous three visits to Doha, and has compiled a 9-2 record at the tournament.
Rublev is a former finalist, having reached the championship match in 2018 where he lost to Gael Monfils. The Russian will make his third straight appearance in Qatar and has a 5-2 record at the event.
Projected semifinalists: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andrey Rublev.
Notable first round matches
Alexander Bublik vs Adrian Mannarino
Fernando Verdasco vs Pablo Andujar
Kyle Edmund vs Filip Krajinovic
Mikhail Kukushkin vs Malek JaziriModified 05 Jan 2020, 14:28 IST