Fed Cup travel conflicts, injury and illness all cratered Doha’s draws before the Round of 16 began. In all, 15 players bailed on Qualifying, while 8 surrendered spots in Doha’s main draw. With a revolving door of participating talent, scheduling became “Level-19 Tetris” for Tournament Supervisor Tony Cho.
Then on Monday, rain nearly washed out the Final Round of Qualifying and Round-1’s first match. It was a nightmare. Thankfully, the weather stabilized on Tuesday. By Wednesday, the 2019 Qatar Total Open moved forward with 3 of its top-four seeds, 4 Qualifiers, a pair of Wild Cards and 5 Lucky Losers. ►► See below for an extensive recap of 2019’s withdrawals
There’s no question, this year’s champion Elise Mertens benefited from 2019’s mass exodus. But in the end, she still had to earn her 5th career Singles title.
In Round-1, Mertens took out Katerina Siniakova in straight sets. Originally a qualifier, Siniakova snuck into the main draw with Madison Keys’ withdrawal. In the Round of 16, Elise avoided a clash with 2017 Champion and #2-seed Karolina Pliskova – who, after a 1st-Round Bye, withdrew moments before the match. Instead, Mertens faced Karolina’s twin sister Kristyna, who stepped-in as 2019’s fifth Lucky Loser.
Elise then defeated three top-10 talents to capture her 5th career Singles title. In fact, down a set and break in the championship match, she came-back to upset World #3 Simona Halep to win the title.
Recaps of the 19 matches played on Center Court
Round of 16
►► 2019 Qatar Total Open's Revolving Door of Withdrawals
In all, 23 players withdrew from the 2019 Qatar Total Open. TWENTY-THREE.
18 WITHDRAWALS BEFORE QUALIFYING BEGAN
In the days before Qualifying, the first three Doha withdrawals included World #1 Naomi Osaka (injury), Madison Keys (playing Fed Cup in Asheville, NC) and Qiang Wang (injury) – which lifted three qualifiers to the main draw: Petra Martic, Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Strycova.
Then, just before Qualifying began, Madison’s Fed Cup teammates Danielle Collins and Sofia Kenin withdrew from Qualifying — as did 13 others. The mass exodus opened the door for 18 players ranked outside the top-90 to enter the Qualifying field – including doubles specialists Hao-Ching Chan and Abigail Spears. With the tournament unable to secure an 18th replacement – Ajla Tomljanovic, the top Qualifying seed, received a 1st-Round Bye.
HOW 5 LUCKY LOSER POSITIONS MATERIALIZED
During Qualifying, Petra Martic withdrew, opening-up the first Lucky Loser position in Doha’s main draw. And yes – as you learned above, Petra was one of three qualifiers lifted to the main draw during Doha’s early round of withdrawals. Let’s continue.
On Monday morning, the #8-seed Ashleigh Barty bailed. At the time, Australia’s top talent was still on-court in Asheville, NC – where she lifted her country to the Fed Cup World Group Semifinals. No amount of hustle or good-timing could have helped Ashleigh reach Doha in-time for her Round-1 match. Julia Görges picked up a seeding and was moved to Ashleigh’s spot in the draw, opening up the second Lucky Loser position.
Then, just before the start of play on Tuesday – Caroline Wozniacki and Caroline Garcia withdrew. Wozniacki sited viral illness. Garcia claimed injury. Two more Lucky Loser positions materialized.
Finally, before the start of play on Day-3, 2017 champion and the #2-seed Karolina Pliskova withdrew before her opening Round of 16 match with Elise Mertens. Because Pliskova had a Round-1 Bye, this opened-up a 5th Lucky Loser position in the draw.
WHO SECURED THE LUCKY LOSER POSITIONS?
Alison Riske and Doha resident Polona Hercog snatched-up the first two Lucky Loser positions after losing in the Final Round of Qualifying. Then on Tuesday, Sam Stosur stepped-in for the ailing Caroline Wozniacki.
The fourth Lucky Loser position would have gone to Liudmila Samsonova, however she had already arranged travel after her Qualifying loss to Karolina Muchova on Monday evening. So, when Garcia bailed after the start of play on Tuesday – Lara Arruabarrena, Samsonova’s opponent in Round-2 of Qualifying, was granted a spot in the main draw.
Finally, when the #2-seed Karolina Pliskova withdrew on Day-3, her twin sister Kristyna Pliskova filled the gap.
Elise Mertens won that match in a 2nd-set tiebreak, then earned three consecutive top-10 victories to capture the title.
Qatar Total Open. Past Champions
2018 Petra Kvitova
2017 Karolina Pliskova
2016 Carla Suarez Navarro
2015 Lucie Safarova
2014 Simona Halep
2013 Victoria Azarenka
2012 Victoria Azarenka
2011 Vera Zvonareva
2008 Maria Sharapova
2007 Justine Henin
2006 Nadia Petrova
2005 Maria Sharapova
2004 Anastasia Myskina
2003 Anastasia Myskina
2002 Monica Seles
2001 Martina Hingis
2018 Jelena Ostapenko / Gabriela Dabrowski
2017 Katarina Srebotnik / Abigail Spears
2016 Yung-Jan Chan / Hao-Ching Chan
2015 Raquel Atawo / Abigail Spears
2014 Shuai Peng / Su-Wei Hsieh
2013 Roberta Vinci / Sara Errani
2012 Liezel Huber / Lisa Raymond
2011 Kveta Peschke / Katarina Srebotnik
2008 Kveta Peschke / Rennae Stubbs
2007 Martina Hingis / Maria Kirilenko
2006 Daniela Hantuchova / Ai Sugiyama
2005 Alicia Molik / Francesca Schiavone
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova / Elena Likhovtseva
2003 Janet Lee / Wynne Prakusya
2002 Janette Husarova / Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
2001 Sandrine Testud / Roberta Vinci