Novak Djokovic -01- (SRB) def Marton Fucsovics -36- (HUN)
When “World #1” precedes your introduction, the target on your back is enormous. No one knows this better than Novak Djokovic. It’s especially true during week-1 of the season. Everyone’s rested – eager to get back to actual competition. The monotony of routine training, preparation and recovery is over.
By the middle of set-2 on Wednesday, it appeared Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics may have had the more productive off-season. An imposing, muscular presence, Fucsovics entered center court like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV. Figurative echoes of “I must break you” reverberated with every counter-punching blow. Djokovic played Rocky Balboa, the undeniable fan favorite – down a set, deflecting punches, backed into the corner.
Remember the US Open
These two met for the first time back in August during a stifling heat wave at the US Open. The humidy was so thick inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, their match was the first in Grand Slam history to allow a 10-minute “extreme heat break” after the third set. With Djokovic up 2-sets to 1, the two retired to the locker room where both stripped naked and climbed into adjacent ice baths.
Novak returned fresh, anihilating Marton in the 4th. Final: 63 36 64 60
Back to Doha. Fucsovics Fades Again
Like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Fucsovics was the tougher, more agressive opponent in the first and second set. Djokovic looked vulnerable, absorbing relentless punishment during long, extended rallies.
Cue “Burning Heart” from Survivor
But late in the second, Rocky – I mean Novak – landed several critical punches. For the first time, he was in position to break Fucsovics and claim the set. After Djokovic missed on his first set point, Marton made a terrible decision. With the set on the line, he STOPPED PLAY to challenge an in-call, rather than continue the point. Review proved the call correct.
With that, the two were even at a set apiece and momentum completely shifted. Novak won the next five games, allowed Marton only a single hold, and breezed through set-3 for the victory.
Up next for Djokovic:  Nikoloz Basilashvili -21- (GEO)
The Djokovic Brothers are Still Alive in Doubles
That same night – after his grueling bout with Drago – Novak and brother Marko earned a spot in the Doubles Semifinals, defeating Damir Dzumhur and fellow Serb Dusan Lajovic. On Monday, the Wild Cards won their first match as a tandem versus Qatar’s Mubarak Shannan Zayid and Turkey’s Cem Ilkel. It’s been a special week for the Djokovics. Tomorrow, after Novak’s clash with Basilashvili, Novak and Marko will face 3-time Grand Slam Doubles Champion Pierre-Hugues Herbert, teamed with David Goffin this week.
Round of 16 Biography |  Novak Djokovic -01- (SRB)
What this man accomplished last year is nothing short of extraordinary. Injured at the start of the season, by May he fell outside the ATP top-20 for the first time in nearly 12-years…but he persevered. Over the Summer, he won his 13th Grand Slam Singles title at Wimbledon, then made tennis history in Cincinnati, defeating Roger Federer in the championship match to become the first player ever to earn the career Golden Masters. He then captured his 14th Major at the US Open, won the Shanghai Masters, and with a run the Paris Masters Final, regained the World #1 ranking for the first time in 2-years. Back in Doha as the World #1, from Serbia, please welcome 2-time Qatar ExxonMobil Open Champion, Novak Djokovic.
Round of 16 Biography | Marton Fucsovics -36- (HUN)
This 26-year-old is fired-up for 2019 after a career-best season last year. He started 2018 by reaching his 9th ATP Challenger Final at Canberra, then at the Australian Open, reached the Round of 16 at a Major for the first time. On clay in Geneva, he defeated 2-time defending champion Stan Wawrinka, and went on to claim his maiden ATP title, becoming the first Hungarian to capture a Tour-level title in 36-years. By season’s end, he’d jump 46-spots in the rankings – and comes into this year’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open at a career-high of World #36. Through to the Round of 16 in his Doha debut, from Hungary, please welcome Marton Fucsovics.
R1 def Marius Copil -60- (ROU) 63 62