2014 ATP Doha (@QatarTennis) Preview & Picks
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The 2014 ATP season will fire up with a strong trio of ATP 250 events, all on hard courts, in Brisbane, Doha and Chennai. Most of the top players will be in action and it is a fresh start to the year for everyone. Here is to a tremendous year of tennis in 2014!
Qatar ExxonMobil Open
ATP World Tour 25)
December 30-January 4, 2014
Prize Money: $1,096,910
8 Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses):
1: Rafael Nadal (1)
2: David Ferrer (3)
3: Andy Murray (4)
4: Tomas Berdych (7)
5: Richard Gasquet (9)
6: Philipp Kohlschreiber (22)
7: Ernests Gulbis (24)
8: Fernando Verdasco (30)
The considerable prize money and the quality venue have attracted five top 10 players to Doha to start off their ATP season.
First round matchups to watch:
(4)Tomas Berdych vs. Ivo Karlovic
A tough opening round match for Tomas Berdych, who went 54-25 but didn’t win an ATP title in 2013. Ivo Karlovic owns a 3-2 h2h advantage against him and he won their only meeting last year indoors in Basel. The Croatian went 15-13 with 1 title at the ATP level in 2013 and dealt with injuries and adversity to post that mark. Berdych, by virtue of his much higher ranking and level of accomplishment still has to be the favorite, but he could be shocked again by Dr. Ivo.
Daniel Brands vs. Nikolay Davydenko
Brands went 24-23 at the ATP level in 2013 and broke into the top 60 for the first time. His great year featured a run to the semis in Doha as a qualifier last year and he has a lot of points to defend against the defending Doha finalist, Davydenko. Davydenko struggled in 2013, posting an even 22-22 ATP record. Davydenko is outside the top 50 and is also under a lot of pressure to defend points. Their h2h is split at 1 each but they have never met on hard courts, and this match is nearly impossible to predict, but I’ll give Brands a slight edge unless Davy finds his Doha 2013 form.
(2)David Ferrer vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov
Ferrer is 6-1 career h2h against Dolgopolov across all the surfaces, but their matches always tend to be entertaining and both are under pressure to perform in 2014. Ferrer continued his dogged play and intense tournament schedule, which helped him reach number 3 in the world, a career high in 2013. He will have to keep that up in 2014 though, as his 60-24 record with 2 ATP titles will be tough to repeat. To be fair, in 2012 he posted an even better record with 7 titles, so though he played better in 2012 statistically, his ranking improved in 2013.
Dolgopolov, meanwhile, took a huge step backward in 2013, and is nearly out of the top 60 now as the 25 year old went 24-27 at the ATP level. He struggled badly with severe slumps throughout the year and it is really hard to predict his 2014. I’m not bullish on his chances in this match, though.
Rafa Nadal will open his ATP season against Lukas Rosol, as the world number 1 can pad his ranking early in this part of the year (which he didn’t play in 2013). Rosol shocked Nadal at Wimbledon, but I don’t expect that to happen again as Rafa should set up a match against Malek Jaziri/Tobias Kamke in round 2 and a quarterfinal match against most likely Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis is also looking to keep improving in 2014, as he put together a quality 2013. The Latvian number 1 opens with a qualifier and then Dani Gimeno-Traver/Lukasz Kubot in round 2. I don’t think he will beat Nadal, however.
Berdych/Karlovic will play a qualifier or Ivan Dodig in round 2. Dodig is one to watch as he played well in 2013 and can put together quality tennis when he gets hot. The winner of that section will face Philipp Kohlschreiber most likely, as the German, who will looking to have a better 2014 than 2013, faces Pablo Andujar in round 1 and then a qualifier in round 2. This section is stacked with interesting players and matchups.
Ferrer/Dolgopolov will face Davydenko/Brands and then most likely Richard Gasquet, in the QFs. Gasquet had a great 2013, posting a 50-23 record with 3 ATP titles (one of them being Doha where he is the defending champion). Reeshy will play wild card Karim Hossam in round 1 and Santiago Giraldo/Gael Monfils in round 2. Monfils continued to struggle with injuries in 2013 but does have a history of success in Doha. It is just a matter of his form and his body holding up as to whether he can make a run. Gasquet went 2-0 against Ferrer in 2013, with both matches on hard courts, and Gasquet seems to have figured out a way to defeat him.
Andy Murray, coming off back surgery after an interesting 2013 in which he won Wimbledon but also because of the injury dropped out of the top 3 for now, will face Qatari wild card Mousa Shanan Zayed and then Michal Przysiezny/Florian Mayer in round 2. Murray played in the big exhibition in Abu Dhabi along with Ferrer and Nadal, so he does have some match play in and looks a bit rusty but fit. His quarterfinal opponent is most likely to be Fernando Verdasco or Joao Sousa. Verdasco plays Filippo Volandri in round 1 while Sousa, who had a breakthrough 2013 and captured an ATP title, opens with veteran player Victor Hanescu. Sousa/Verdasco vs Murray should be a good match.
Dark Horse: Gael Monfils
The Frenchman posted a 33-22 record in 2013 and is twice a former finalist in Doha, though he has never won the title. If he is healthy and in good form he certainly has the talent to defeat Giraldo, Gasquet and Ferrer in order to reach the semis, making him a dangerous dark horse to watch.
Nadal d. Berdych
Gasquet d. Murray
Nadal should cruise as he hasn’t lost to Berdych since 2007 and they have played a ton including 5 times in 2013.
I think Berdych will survive to reach the semis, though. Murray beat Gasquet once in 2013 on Miami hard courts, but that match went 3 sets. With Murray still recovering his form after the surgery, and Gasquet having a good record in Doha, I think Reeshy will knock him off.
Nadal d. Gasquet
Nadal has never lost to Gasquet as a professional player, and they have played many times. I expect the world number 1 to continue his tremendous play.