The 2021 Qatar ExxonMobil Open marks the return of Roger Federer after a 13-month injury hiatus. Needless to say, the Middle-Eastern event is one of the most anticipated of the year, with fans desperate to see what the 39-year-old Federer brings to the table.
Dominic Thiem is the top seed and leads the top half of the draw, whereas second-seed Roger Federer is the headliner in the bottom half.
The top four players - Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer, Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov - have received a bye in their opening round. Without further ado, let us take a closer look at the draw:
Top half: Dominic Thiem guns for glory in his first event after the Australian Open
Seeded players:  Dominic Thiem,  Andrey Rublev,  Roberto Bautista Agut,  Stan Wawrinka
Expected semifinal: Dominic Thiem vs Andrey Rublev
Dark horse: Alexander Bublik
Analysis: Dominic Thiem has been drawn to face one of Aslan Karatsev or home hope Mubarak Shannan Zayid in the second round. And given Karatsev’s form at the Australian Open, this could be a tough test for Thiem.
Alexander Bublik, who recently defeated Alexander Zverev at the Rotterdam Open, has been drawn to face a qualifier in the opening round. If he gets past that hurdle, one of Reilly Opelka or Roberto Bautista Agut awaits the Kazakh in the second round.
One of these players is projected to be the quarterfinal opponent for Dominic Thiem, should the Austrian make it that far. Bautista Agut is the favorite to take on Thiem in the last eight, but he might have his hands full with Opelka or Bublik.
Andrey Rublev is the third seed and has thus received a bye in the first round. In the second, he could face Richard Gasquet, who begins his campaign against a qualifier.
Rublev is in good form right now, having reached the final in Rotterdam where he will take on either Borna Coric or Marton Fucsovics.
Stan Wawrinka, meawhile, starts his Doha campaign against a qualifier. That will undoubtedly be a relief for the Swiss, who faced Karen Khachanov in the opening round at Rotterdam.
The in-form Marton Fucsovics finds himself pitted against Dusan Lajovic in the first round. Should he win that match, the Hungarian is likely to lock horns against Wawrinka.
All things considered, Andrey Rublev and Dominic Thiem seem to be the favorites to reach the semis from this half of the draw. But an upset could possibly be on the cards if Rublev is fatigued from his exploits in Rotterdam.
Semifinal prediction: Dominic Thiem vs Andrey Rublev
Bottom half: Roger Federer returns to action after more than 400 days
Seeded players:  Roger Federer,  Denis Shapovalov,  David Goffin,  Borna Coric
Expected semifinal: Roger Federer vs Denis Shapovalov
Dark horse: Filip Krajinovic
Analysis: The bottom half of the draw is the main attraction of the event, given that it features a certain Roger Federer. The Swiss is returning to the Qatar Open for the first time since 2012, where he had made the semis.
By virtue of his seeding, Roger Federer has received a bye in the first round. He is then slated to cross swords with one of Jeremy Chardy or Dan Evans in the second.
This is arguably the toughest second-round fixture among all the top four seeds, given that Chardy has been in sublime form lately.
The Frenchman went on a four-match winning streak at Rotterdam, where he reached the quarterfinals. Chardy knocked out David Goffin along the way, and almost got the better of Rublev too before going down 4-6 in the decider.
On the other hand, Dan Evans has not played since his first-round defeat to Cameron Norrie at the Australian Open. Interestingly, however, the Brit has been training with none other than Roger Federer himself over the past couple of weeks.
John Millman, meanwhile, opens his campaign against Nikoloz Basilashvili. The winner of this match will face the winner of the fixture between Borna Coric and Malek Jaziri.
Coric is currently in the Rotterdam Open semifinals, and seems to have rediscovered his touch. The Croat has always been a tough opponent for Roger Federer, and this time he is drawn to take on the Swiss legend in the quarterfinals.
Denis Shapovalov is likely to face countryman Vasek Pospisil in his second-round fixture. The latter is drawn to face a qualifier in the opening round.
Two blockbuster opening-round fixtures complete this half as David Goffin faces Filip Krajinovic while Lorenzo Sonego locks horns against Taylor Fritz. The winners of these two matches will then face each other in the second round.
All things considered, this is arguably a tricky draw for Roger Federer. The Swiss will likely have a difficult time against Evans or Chardy, and could also be challenged by Coric - a man who has given Federer fits even on grass.
Semifinal prediction: Filip Krajinovic vs Borna Coric
Andrey Rublev vs Borna Coric