Date: 10 March 2021
Tournament: Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 16)
Venue: Doha, Qatar
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $787,930
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | India - Eurosport
Dominic Thiem vs Aslan Karatsev preview
Dominic Thiem will open his 2021 Qatar ExxonMobil Open campaign against Aslan Karatsev in the second round. Karatsev ousted home hope Mubarak Shannan Zayid in the first round on Monday, winning 6-4, 6-0.
This is the first tournament for both Thiem and Karatsev since the Australian Open. But it is Karatsev who had a more memorable run at the year’s opening Grand Slam, where he made the semis.
Dominic Thiem, meanwhile, scraped past Nick Kyrgios before getting knocked out by Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. The Austrian was plagued by a minor injury during that week, and as such wasn’t able to produce his best tennis.
Thiem has since recovered fully, and has now also been reunited with coach Nicolas Massu. The Chilean had skipped the Australian Open as he had tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the event.
Massu has been an integral part of Thiem’s entourage in recent years, often providing the World No. 4 with invaluable support from the sidelines. Thiem could benefit immensely from Massu's presence as he sets his sights on the title in Doha, where he is the top seed.
Aslan Karatsev is a wildcard entrant at Doha, but he is by no means a pushover if his exploits in Melbourne are anything to go by. The Russian punched far above his weight Down Under, defeating Egor Gerasimov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov.
Against the unranked Zayid in Doha, Karatsev conceded a mere seven points on serve without getting broken a single time. The Russian dominated most of the baseline exchanges too, outhitting his Qatari counterpart at will.
Dominic Thiem vs Aslan Karatsev head-to-head
Dominic Thiem and Aslan Karatsev have never played each other on tour, and therefore their head-to-head is tied at 0-0.
Dominic Thiem vs Aslan Karatsev prediction
Dominic Thiem is the favorite for this fixture on paper. But given that the Austrian tends to start slowly in non-Major events, he could find himself struggling to stay with Aslan Karatsev in the initial phase of the match.
Karatsev boasts of a strong offense, and Thiem - without any match practice - is likely to have difficulty retrieving the Russian's bullets at the start. But once Thiem gets going, he might be able to put Karatsev on the backfoot with his heavy topspin.
If Dominic Thiem had come into this fixture with a win or two under his belt, he'd probably have found it fairly easy to get the better of the Russian. But seeing how that is not the case, Karatsev could potentially cause a famous upset.
Prediction: Aslan Karatsev to win in three sets.