Day 1. Round 1. Dominic Thiem

Andy Taylor. Host. Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2018. Day 1. Round 1. Dominic Thiem

Host. Andy Taylor. Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2018
Dominic Thiem (AUT) def Evgeny Donsky (RUS) 76(3) 63

From ball up, Monday’s first match featured high-quality tennis from both World #5 Dominic Thiem and Evgeny Donskoy. Thiem earned his first break to go up 5-3 in the first, but Donskoy dug-in and immediately returned the favor. Down 4-5, 30-40, Evgeny saved set-point, leveled it at 5-all, and both held to the tie-break. From 2-all in the breaker, Thiem was un-returnable and earned five of the next six points to gain the edge.

In set-2, Dominic pounded even more aces, allowing Donskoy only a single break opportunity. Evegeny continued to battle, but Thiem had a beat on the Russian’s serve. Thiem broke to go up 3-2, then delivered the win 4-games later on his return.

Off-season work. Visible Results

One of Thiem’s challenges over the short off-season was to continue improving his service game. The stats show a measly 59% 1st-serve percentage on Monday, but it was his defining weapon against Donskoy. With 13-aces, he won 93% of those 1st-serve points. Moving forward in the draw, if he can boost that percentage, Doha’s top-seed could be looking at his 9th career title here in Doha.

UP Next: Aljaz Bedene or [WC] Malez Jaziri

Dominic has one win over both potential Round of 16 opponents. He took out Jaziri in Nottingham’s 1st-Round 3-years back. Bedene earned a win over Thiem at the 2015 Irving Challenger, but Dominic avenged the loss with a 4-set victory two months later in the 1st-Round at Roland Garros.

Dominic Thiem. Starting the season as a top-5 for the first time

AT JUST 24-YEARS-OLD, HE OWNS 8 ATP WORLD TOUR SINGLES TITLES AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS CAREER, STARTS THE NEW YEAR AS A TOP-5 PLAYER. LAST SEASON, HE WAS EXTRAORDINARY; ONE OF ONLY TWO PLAYERS TO REACH THE ROUND OF 16 OR GREATER AT ALL FOUR MAJORS. IN JANUARY, HE REACHED THE 4TH ROUND OF THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN, THEN A MONTH LATER, CAPTURED HIS 8TH CAREER TITLE AT THE RIO OPEN. DURING THE CLAY-SWING, HE WAS ON FIRE. HE DEFEATED WORLD #1 ANDY MURRAY TO REACH THE BARCELONA FINAL, AND FOLLOWED THAT UP WITH A FINALIST RUN AT THE MADRID MASTERS. IN THE ROME MASTERS, HE DEFEATED WORLD #4 RAFAEL NADAL TO REACH THE SEMIFINALS, THEN POSTED HIS FIRST CAREER VICTORY OVER NOVAK DJOKOVIC, RETURNING TO THE SEMIFINALS OF THE FRENCH OPEN. WITH ROUND OF 16 RUNS AT BOTH WIMBLEDON AND THE US OPEN, HE QUALIFIED FOR THE YEAR-END ATP FINALS FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR, AND FINSIHED THE SEASON RANKED INSIDE THE TOP-5 FOR THE FIRST TIME. COMPETING IN HIS SECOND QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN, FROM AUSTRIA, PLEASE WELCOME THE #5 PLAYER IN THE WORLD – DOMINIC THIEM

Evgeny Donskoy. 2017 Federer slayer in Dubai

AT 27-YEARS-OLD, HE OWNS 11 ATP CHALLENGER TOUR SINGLES TITLES; AND LAST FEBRUARY IN DUBAI, EARNED HIS FIRST TOP-10 WIN IN A REMARKABLE, COME-FROM-BEHIND VICTORY OVER ROGER FEDERER. DOWN A SET AND 2-5 IN THE SECOND, HE SAVED THREE MATCH POINTS, DEFEATING FEDERER IN THE DECIDING TIE-BREAK. A MEMBER OF HIS COUNTRY’S OLYMPIC AND DAVIS CUP TEAMS, AT THE 2016 SUMMER GAMES IN RIO – HE SAVED TWO MATCH POINTS TO DEFEAT DAVID FERRER, AND ADVANCED TO THE 3RD-ROUND IN HIS OLYMPIC DEBUT. RANKED AS HIGH AS #65 IN THE WORLD, HE’S REACHED THE 3RD-ROUND OF BOTH THE AUSTRALIAN AND US OPENS, AND IS COMPETING IN THE MAIN DRAW OF THE QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN FOR THE FIRST TIME. FROM RUSSIA, PLEASE WELCOME – EVGENY DONSKOY