Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2019: Draw Preview & Analysis
It has just been over a month since Croatia lifted the Davis Cup title to cap off the 2018 tennis season, but it still somehow feels way, way longer than that. So, after a long, arduous wait, the 2019 season finally kicks off with the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Qatar, Doha.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic headlines a stellar field along with young guns Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov.
David Goffin, who struggled with an elbow injury throughout the second half of last season, and after shutting down his season in China, will be making a comeback along with former world no. 4 Tomas Berdych, who will be playing his first tournament since Queen’s last season after recovering from a back injury.
So, without any more wait, let’s take a look at the draw:
The 2-time champion Novak Djokovic leads the quarter and has a draw that will help him assess his game. He will face Damir Dzumhur in his opening round before having a chance to face either Marton Fucsovics or Marius Copil. Then in the quarters, he is likely to face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who had a brilliant last season, capturing titles in Hamburg and Beijing, helping him finish the season at a career-high ranking of 21.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic
This quarter is led by Karen Khachanov, who also had an exceptional 2018 season, which he capped off with a first Masters 1000 title in Paris. He will face Stan Wawrinka in a blockbuster opening round. The winner of that will then face either Robin Haase or Nicolas Jarry before likely meeting Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarters.
The Pick: Karen Khachanov
Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato is the highest ranked player in this quarter and has a very decent draw that might help him improve his record on hard courts. He will face a qualifier in his first match before likely facing Guido Pella. In the quarters, he will probably face Belgian no. 1 David Goffin, who is coming back from an elbow injury.
The Pick: David Goffin
Dominic Thiem leads this quarter and has drawn a tough outing for himself. In his opener, he will face Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert before likely facing Peter Gojowczyk, and both these men will give the Austrian a run for his money on these courts. In the other section, Tomas Berdych will play his first match since June, facing the flamboyant German, Philipp Kohlschreiber, before having a chance to face Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco.
The Pick: Dominic Thiem
Novak Djokovic v Karen Khachanov
The Pick: Khachanov defeated Djokovic in the Paris Masters final last year, but everyone knows the Serb was struggling physically after an epic 3-hour encounter with Federer the previous evening. However, the world no. 1 got the better of the young Russian in the Mubadala World Tennis Championships this week and will be a little too much to handle for Khachanov yet again.
David Goffin v Dominic Thiem
The Pick: Goffin has got the better of Thiem on every completed match on a hard court, but Thiem will pack too much heat for the Belgian to deal with, especially in his first tournament back after injury.
Novak Djokovic v Dominic Thiem
The Pick: Even though Thiem has improved a bit on hard courts over the last season, he still gets rushed by players who take the ball a bit early and Djokovic will do just that. The Serb will continue the momentum of his epic last season, going into the first Grand Slam of the season Down Under.
Exciting early round matchups:
Karen Khachanov v Stan Wawrinka
Robin Haase v Nicolas Jarry
Tomas Berdych v Philipp Kohlschreiber
Dominic Thiem v Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Marton Fucsovics v Marius Copil