Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open
Pierre-Hugues Herbert advances to the Round of 16
For the second time in 3-years, Pierre-Hugues opened the season with a win over Marco Cecchinato. Thankfully for the Frenchman, this one wasn’t as nail-biting as their clash in Pune 2-years-ago.
Last year, Herbert’s season-opening victory came at the expense of World #8 Dominic Thiem. He went on to reach the Quarters and captured the Doubles title with partner David Goffin. That debut week in Qatar set the tone for a defining season where Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won the Australian Open – both earning the career Grand Slam. They then bookended the season by capturing the Doubles title at the ATP Tour Finals in London.
Coach Fabrice Santoro (2000 Doha Champion) clearly made a wise choice suggesting that Herbert start week-1 in Doha.
That said, the defending Doubles champion is in Doha this week without a partner. The focus is 100% on the Singles Draw.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert is now 2-0 versus Marco Cecchinato
► 2020. Herbert – Score: 63 64 – Doha (R1)
► 2018. Herbert – Score: 76(4) 67(6) 62 – Pune (R1)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert -65- (FRA) | Round-1 Announcer Introduction
He is the reigning ATP Finals Doubles Champion – and with 4 Major Doubles titles, owns the Career Grand Slam. But make no mistake, with lightening quick reflexes at the net – with or without a partner – he is a significant threat. Last year on this court, he upset World #8 Dominic Thiem and reached the Quarterfinals in his Doha debut. In Doubles, he and David Goffin reached their first Final together since Juniors, capturing the Doha title in a Championship tiebreak. He went-on to reach his 3rd career Singles Final in Montpellier, climbed to a career-high ranking of World #36, and earned his 3rd top-10 victory with an upset of World #6 Kei Nishikori in Monte Carlo. Competing is his 2nd Qatar ExxonMobil Open, from France – He is 2019 Doha Doubles Champion, Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
▲ R1 — def [WC] Marco Cecchinato -75- (ITA) | Score: 63 64
Announcer Corner | Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Intelligent, versatile and one hell of an athlete — Pierre-Hugues Herbert is on an absolute tear. In Doubles last season, the 28-year-old completed the career Grand Slam with partner Nicolas Mahut. After their Australian Open triumph, the two became one of only eight teams in tennis history to capture all four Majors. Not shockingly, it was Herbart’s second title of the young season. Two weeks earlier, he teamed with David Goffin to win Doha. Mahut and Herbert then capped the season by winning two more trophies together: Their 7th Masters title in Paris and the Doubles title at the year-end ATP Finals.
During the past two seasons Herbert has also been proficient without a partner. In 2018, he earned 24 Singles victories. Last year: 22. A run that started here in Doha with an upset victory over World #8 Dominic Thiem. At the Australian Open, he reached Round-3 of a Major for the fourth time, then battled past names like Shapovalov and Berdych to reach his 3rd career Singles Final in Montpellier. He climbed to a career-high ranking of World #36, upset World #6 Kei Nishikori at the Montel Carlo Masters and made a run to the Budpest Semifinals a week later.
A 17-time Doubles champion with 4 Majors and 7 Masters-1000 trophies, Pierre-Hugues’ doubles accolades will always precede him. But let’s be honest, the lightning quick net-minder is a significant threat in both disciplines.
[WC] Marco Cecchinato -75- (ITA) | Round-1 Announcer Introduction
Last year, this 27-year-old reached his first ATP Tour hard-court Semifinal right here in Doha. A month later, he captured the title in Buenos Aires. Ranked as high as World #16, he now owns 3 ATP Tour Singles titles, 5 Challenger titles, and is a Grand Slam Semifinalist. At the 2018 French Open, he earned his first career top-10 victory – defeating World #9 David Goffin in the Round of 16 – then in the Quarters, stunned 2016 Roland Garros Champ Novak Djokovic, becoming the first Italian Grand Slam Semifinalist in 40-years. Back in Doha, competing in his 5th Qatar ExxonMobil Open – From Italy, this is Marco Cecchinato.
▼ R1 — loss Pierre-Hugues Herbert -65- (FRA) | Score: 36 46
Announcer’s Corner | Marco Cecchinato
After Marco’s top-20 Semifinal run here in Doha last year, he lost three in-a-row, with early exits in Auckland, Melbourne and Cordoba. Just when it looked like the wheels were slipping from the rails, he won his third career ATP Tour title in Buenos Aires and leaped to a career-high ranking of World #16. Things were looking up. Europe’s clay season was on the horizon.
Win-less during the Sunshine hard-court swing in the States, Marco then won a 2nd-Round clash with Stan Wawrinka in Monte Carlo, after losing the first set 0-6. He made a Semifinal run Munich, won one match in Rome, then lost 9 consecutive matches from Roland Garros to Cincinnati. His ranking plummeted.
Outside the top-60, he played a pair of Challengers after a 1st-Round exit at the US Open, and lost every Tour-level main-draw match he played the rest of the year. In fact, his last ATP Tour main draw victory without a retirement (Bublic in Winston-Salem), was last May in Rome where he defeated Alex de Minaur in the Opening Round. Needless to say, 2019 was a frustrating season considering his “breakthrough” the season prior.
In 2018, he started the season ranked outside the top-100, with only 4 ATP Tour-level match victories to his name. By October, he cracked the top-20. He began this sensational run by capturing his 5th ATP Challenger Tour Singles title in Santiago…then went on to win his first two Tour-level titles in Budapest and Umag. At Roland Garros, he earned his first career top-10 victory – defeating World #9 David Goffin in the Round of 16 – then in the Quarters, stunned 2016 French Open Champion Novak Djokovic to become the first Italian Grand Slam Semifinalist in 40-years.