2018 ATP Doha Preview and Predictions: Next Gen Stars Thiem, Coric, Rublev Lead Weakened Doha Field
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP 250 in Doha on hard courts to start the season is normally the ritziest 250 on tour but with most notably Novak Djokovic’s absence it plays host to one of the weaker fields it’s had in recent memory. ATP Next Gen stars Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric, and Andrey Rublev are presented with a great chance to make a run. Here is your full preview, with predictions.
Having cemented himself in the top 5, Thiem leads the Doha field and will open with Evgeny Donskoy. Thiem needs to focus on keep himself fresher in 2018, and he’s also going to be playing with a target on his back all season. That said, he has the game to put away Donskoy and either Malek Jaziri or Aljaz Bedene, Jaziri tends to step up his play in the Middle East, Bedene, who is back representing Slovenia, had a great 2017 though and should be opposite Thiem, falling in round 2.
French veteran Richard Gasquet opens with one of the oldest players on tour, Victor Estrella, he’ll then get another young gun in this draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, or veteran Florian Mayer in round 2. The Greek won 4 matches on the main tour last year and will be looking for a big scalp to start the season, that said Gasquet is good enough when fit I have him defeating everyone into the semifinals, including Thiem in the battle of backhands.Embed from Getty Images
Another veteran hoping for a good 2018 is Tomas Berdych, the Czech won 35 matches but hoisted no titles in 2017 was forgotten for much of the season. He’s better than J.L. Struff, and either Paolo Lorenzi or wild card Gael Monfils though. Monfils had yet another season derailed by injury last year, shutting down after the US Open, he hopes to be fit to start 2018.
Serbia’s Viktor Troicki faces ATP debutante Matteo Berrettini, while his countryman Filip Krajinovic takes on Peter Gojowczyk. Krajinovic had an incredible 2017 winning 71 matches in total (only 5 on the main tour) and reaching the ATP Paris Masters final. After tearing up the challenger tour look for Krajinovic to rise defeating Troicki and Berdych to reach the semifinals.Embed from Getty Images
Pablo Carreno Busta had a career year in 2017 but it still doesn’t seem like he’s appreciated enough. PCB has transformed into an all court performer, but despite his top 10 ranking he’s an underdog against Coric in his opening match. Coric is a talent but posted a below .500 tour record in 2017, PCB should defeat Coric and either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Thomas Fabbiano to reach the quarterfinals.
Russia’s young gun Rublev is my choice to reach the semifinals, Rublev just beat PCB in Abu Dhabi and his path is Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, then a veteran, either Fernando Verdasco or Dudi Sela, before facing PCB or Coric in the quarters (most likely).
The section with Albert Ramos as the highest seed is the weakest part of this draw, Ramos faces Guido Pella in a toss-up contest, Spanish veterans Feliciano Lopez and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will square off, qualifier’s Mirza Basic and Stefano Travaglia are favored against Andreas Haider Maurer and local wild card Jabor Al-Mutawa respectively. Lopez did not have a great year last year but he still should be favored to survive and reach the quarters where he should defeat Ramos.Embed from Getty Images
Gasquet d. Krajinovic
Rublev d. Lopez
I’ll take Gasquet’s guile and shotmaking to take home the Doha title over the young gun Rublev, this is a pretty open field so anything could happen, but look for this contingent to get off to a good 2018.
Gasquet d. Rublev