Becker and Edmund progress in ATP Doha Qualifying
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The ExxonMobil Open will see world No.1 Novak Djokovic start his 2016 campaign. Prior to the main draw, 16 players battled against each during the qualifying tournament for four places in the main draw.
Spearheading the field was Spanish world No.72 Inigo Cervantes. The Spaniard ended 2015 on a high after winning the ATP Challenger Tour finals in Brazil. Despite the positive end to last year, Cervantes suffered a first round upset at the hands of Bosnia’s Mirza Basic.
After dropping the opening set, the former junior world No.6 battled back to upset the top seed 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. Basic’s reward was an encounter with German 7th seed Dustin Brown, who defeated Czech Republic’s Marek Michalicka in his opening match. Brown, who defeated Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year, edged his way past the Bosnian in two close sets (6-4,7-5) to reach the main draw.
Brown wasn’t the only German success in the qualifying tournament. Second seed Benjamin Becker overcame two close matches to progress to the main draw. After a slow start to his campaign, Becker defeated former world No.70 Flávio Cipolla 3-6,6-3,6-1, in his first match. In the following round he played veteran player Michael Berrer. Last year at the Qatar tournament Berrer stunned Rafael Nadal in the first round. Becker ensured that there was no chance that Berrer would create another shock in the tournament after he defeated the 35-year-old 5-7,7-5,7-5.
British tennis star Kyle Edmund booked his place in the main draw without dropping a set. The 20-year-old is currently ranked #102 in the world, three places below his career high. Last year he won three Challenger titles and was part of the winning Davis Cup team. Edmund booked a final showdown with Moldova’s Radu Albot after defeating Italy’s Andrea Arnaboldi in his opening match. During the 74-minute encounter, Edmund held eight of his nine service games during his 6-2, 6-4 win over Albot.
Finally Russian world No.195 Aslan Karatsev produced wins over the fourth and fifth seed to reach the main draw. In the first round he stunned Belgium Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-3, to book a second round meeting with Lukas Lacko. After an early stumble in the match where he went down 0-3 to Lacko, the Russian maneuvered his way back to win 6-4, 6-4. The 22-year-old is yet to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, however, last year he won his first challenger title in Kazan (Russia) at the age of 21.
Main draw matches for the qualifiers
(Q) Dustin Brown vs. (1) Novak Djokovic
(Q) Benjamin Becker vs. (8) Leonardo Mayer
(Q) Kyle Edmund vs. Martin Klizan
(Q) Aslan Karatsev vs. Robin Haase
All of the qualifiers have winnable opening round matches except for Brown, who will need to produce a long highlight reel to stun Djokovic in his first match of the season.