Djokovic, Dimitrov, and Bautista Agut Start 2017 As Champions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Novak Djokovic claimed his second consecutive, and second overall Doha title in a nip and tuck 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory over world #1 Andy Murray. Djokovic showed he’s going to make a push for the world #1 early this season in his comprehensive victory over Murray. The new knight Murray played well in the match, but faltered late, and proved it’s still difficult for him to defeat Djokovic when the Serbian is at his best.
Djokovic’s path to the title featured routine wins over J.L. Struff, Horacio Zeballos, and Radek Stepanek. Fernando Verdasco was his semifinal opponent and gave the Serbian all he could handle. Djokovic was a set down and faced five match points in the second set tiebreak before capturing it and going on to win the third set. Verdasco’s weaknesses mentally in clutch situations let him down once again.
Murray showed he’s still a cut above the rest of the ATP tour, posting wins over Jeremy Chardy, Gerald Melzer, Nicolas Almagro, and Tomas Berdych without dropping a set. Murray had a few signs of rust, but he looks healthy and focused as his next stop will be Melbourne, where he’s often the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin beat Vasek Pospisil and Radek Stepanek for the doubles trophy.
Grigor Dimitrov won his first ATP title in three years as the 25 year old defeated Kei Nishikori 6-2 2-6 6-3 in a fantastic singles final. Dimitrov played his best tennis in well over a year as he was firing accurately from both wings and pushing the Japanese #1 around for much of the match. Dimitrov returned well to get his breaks when needed, and maintained his high level of play in the clutch moments of the match.
Dimitrov also defeated top 10 players Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches respectively for his best results in years. He also defeated Steve Johnson and Nicolas Mahut in early round action.
Nishikori for his part got off to a solid start, defeating Jared Donaldson, Jordan Thompson, and Stan Wawrinka before falling in the final. Wawrinka was disappointing in his semifinal match, while Nishikori showed he’ll be a dark horse threat in Melbourne.
For Dimitrov, a renewed push for the ATP top 10 will be in order if he can maintain this high level of play. He’s certainly not an opponent anyone wants to draw at the Australian Open.
Australian young guns Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson eased past Sam Querrey and Gilles Muller in the doubles final, to the delight of the local crowd.
Roberto Bautista Agut earned his fifth career ATP title with a 6-3 6-4 victory over young gun Daniil Medvedev, who at age 20 was taking part in his first ever ATP final. RBA was one of the tournament favorites from the start, and he got off to a hot start, easing past Rogerio Dutra Silva. In round 2 Mikhail Youzhny was in control, a set and a double break ahead, but Youzhny suffered an epic collapse and RBA won in three sets, going on to defeat Benoit Paire in straights in the semifinals.
The young Medvedev made the best of a favorable draw, defeating Thiago Monteiro, Rendy Lu, and Jozef Kovalik without dropping a set. He then came back from a set down to score a close victory over veteran Dudi Sela. After starting 2016 on the futures tour, you’ll certainly be seeing more of this young Russian on the ATP tour in 2017.
Indian pairing Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan defeated Purav Raja and Divij Sharan in an all Indian doubles final at India’s only ATP World Tour tournament.